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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

YOU didn’t back check …

Pro hockey player Connor Jones’ inspiring stories on life, hockey and everything in between.

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

B.C. doc breaks down the incognito mosquito

Dr. Carol Fenton is a Medical Health Officer for Interior Health

Work remains to be done in B.C. care homes

BCSLA represents private operators of Independent and Assisted Living, and Long Term Care residences

Police investigating car accident on Rossland Hill

Captain Grant Tyson says the rollover resulted in minor injuries to three people

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read