Rossland Arena’s ice making equipment was shut down in March after cracks were discovered in the brine lines. Photo: John Boivin

Rossland Arena’s ice making equipment was shut down in March after cracks were discovered in the brine lines. Photo: John Boivin

Task force urges council to keep ice-making in Rossland arena

Study looked at various scenarios for the 80-year-old facility — but not demolition

Rossland’s arena should be kept operating as a facility for ice sports, a citizens’ panel is recommending to council.

The report of the Rossland recreation task force was presented to council on Monday.

“As a starting point, there is consensus in the task force that the status quo is not an option,” says a summary of the report. “All of us agree that in one form or another, more money should be put into the arena to improve it and make it more marketable.”

The task force members also agreed decommissioning the building “would be undesirable — extremely costly, and detrimental to the community” the report says — though it cautions that option was not explored in depth.

The task force was struck in March after a failure in the brine cooling system forced the arena to stop ice-making early. The failure brought into focus the need for council to come up with a long-term plan for the arena that had community consensus.

SEE: After ice-making failure, future of Rossland Arena up for debate

Seven members of the public joined four city staff and councillors on the task force, though only the public members had voting rights.

The majority of the task force members said it would be unwise to shut down the 80-year-old facility.

“The arena is an important part of the community fabric,” the report authors indicated. “There are significant non-financial values in keeping the arena as an ice facility, and costs to terminating it, as it is embedded in the history of this city. These can’t be reflected in a worksheet, but they are very real.”

The task force explored six scenarios, from running the arena as it is now, with ice in winter and concrete in summer; or with ice in winter and a gym or turf surface in summer; to removing ice-making altogether and just having a turf or gym floor year-round.

The scenario of having ice in the winter and a gym floor in the summer won the most votes from the public members of the task force.

READ THE FULL REPORT: Report of the Rossland Recreation Task Force (starts on Page 5)

Overall the majority felt having some ice making capability, despite the high cost, would be better for Rossland.

“It serves more Rosslanders than the alternatives, and serves a broader demographic, in particular youth,” the report indicates. “The arena is well used by ice activities, according to data from the city’s new, more rigorous, monitoring system.”

It also noted that ice-based tournaments are a benefit to local business and tourism, and investing in alternative surfacing outside of winter (turf or gym floor) “would be an expansion of the recreation services offered to Rossland, as opposed to a contraction.”

But not all task force members agreed. Some worried about the financial impact of keeping the ageing arena operating.

“The minority that voted against an ice facility argue that the higher capital and operating costs of ice scenarios, while lower than what had been cited in previous discussions on the future of the arena, are still significant for those who currently struggle to pay taxes in Rossland,” the report notes.

“Ultimately, those in favour of ice scenarios argue that the difference in costs is not great enough to justify losing the benefits of an ice facility, the downsides of closing the ice, or the risks of converting to a year-round facility with an uncertain revenue stream.”

No to demolition

The task force report indicates that simply getting rid of the facility was not deeply investigated.

“We did not consider demolition or decommissioning of the building, but suspect that such an option would have overly negative impacts, including being cost-prohibitive,” the report says, noting that would cost city staff jobs and reduce options for recreation in the city. “Neither did we consider the option, used in some communities, of selling or leasing the arena to a commercial operator.

“Those in favour of turf or gym flooring argued that the increased costs were justified by the increased number of hours of usage, based on our survey of potential users,” the report says. “The ice-plus-gym scenario seems to achieve widest service in terms of hours used and demographics served. They also argued that, while grant opportunities are possible for all scenarios, there may be more potential for grants in a scenario involving new types of facilities and services.”

It costs about $91,000 more a year to operate the arena more than it takes in revenue, even when all its systems are in working order. That works out to a subsidy of about $38 a year for the average homeowner paying taxes. Estimates to replace the building’s ice-making equipment range up to $350,000.

In any of the scenarios developed by the commission, the building needs significant capital spending to keep it in operating order. Leaving it as-is, the building is facing about $1.4 million dollars of work. Adding a summer turf surface would (along with other work that needs to be done) cost just under $1.6 million; taking out ice-making and just having a year-round turf surface would still cost $1.2 million.

Council received the report and will respond in the coming weeks.



reporter@rosslandnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Greater Trail barrel racer Hunter Weishaupt will race for a coveted spot in the Calgary Stampede
West Kootenay barrel racer takes run at Stampede

Hunter Weishaupt is inviting sponsors to get on board in her quest to compete in Calgary Stampede

Refusals to wear masks had Trail police called to two separate scenes on Saturday. Photo: Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash
Trail police called to mask confrontations

The Province of BC has masks being mandatory indoors

L-R: Patients of Dr. Sarah Tucker, Dr. Trevor Aiken and Dr. Stephanie Cameron must call Columbia Primary Care Clinic at 250.368.9394 to make appointments after July 1. Photo: Submitted
Three doctors at Trail clinic on the move

Drs Tucker, Aiken, and Cameron move to Columbia Primary Care Clinic effective July 1

With high temperatures forecasted for the week and into the next, Interior Health is offering some tips on how to keep yourself safe from heat-related illness. (Pixabay)
Interior Health offers safety tips as temperatures soar

‘Too much heat can be harmful to your health’

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)
Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

People enjoy the sun at Woodbine Beach on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
BC Hydro assures customers it has ‘more than enough’ power to weather the heatwave

Despite an increase of pressure on the Western grid, blackouts are not expected like in some U.S. states

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

Six United Way chapters around the province are merging into United Way B.C. (News Bulletin file photo)
6 United Way chapters merging around B.C.

Money raised in communities will stay in those communities, agency says

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Most Read