The head of a group lobbying to keep the Rossland Arena open with ice says they’re happy with a new report recommending the facility continue to have ice — but they’d now like to see the city move on the issue.
“We were really pleased with the due diligence and efforts that went into that report, and we really appreciate their effort,” says Ona Stanton, president of the Rossland Arena Society. “It’s absolutely encouraging.”
Stanton was commenting on a report issued last week by the Rossland recreation task force on the arena’s future.
The task force told council the city should keep the arena open, with ice-making ability, and look at ways of expanding the facility’s usefulness in the off-season.
Stanton says the task force’s recommendation backs up what the arena society has found.
“Having looked at this data thoroughly over the past year since I’ve been involved, we were confident that there is significant interest in ice in our community,” she says.
“We know it’s highly utilized, we know it has value, and we also know that every ice user pays every time. So there’s always going to be a significantly higher return on ice usage than removing ice and having no guarantee of usage.”
Stanton says she hopes the report will put base questions about the arena to rest, and allow the city to move forward.
“We hope the city will change their perspective from ‘does this community want ice?’ to ‘how can we keep ice?’” she says. “Because if we can do that, there are so many opportunities to apply for grants and funding on a regular basis.
“So we would love to have that direction confirmed in an expedient fashion, so we can move to work together to finding ways to achieve ice in our community without it having a huge impact on taxes.”
Stanton says the only thing that took her aback at the task force presentation to council was a comment by the mayor that there was no urgency to the decision.
“It’s been indicated the chiller is beyond its useful life, and this decision is very urgent,” she says. “And that’s why the task force came back with a decision on the arena before the remaining topics that they are going to survey.
“So I guess from a society perspective, we feel there is an urgency to the decision and we hope this report will help council continue to make this a high-priority decision and work towards confirming or not confirming that they’re going to keep ice opportunities in our community.”
Stanton says her group would like to see a ruling from council sooner than later on investing in a new cooling system for the ice-making plant.
“We feel that the ability to have a plan and to be able to apply for grants is so critical for any community that has such a large tax base reliant on residents,” she says. “And we feel our goal is to be able to keep the momentum going. But in order to do that, we need to know that ice will remain in this community.”
Stanton said the society has been overwhelmed by the support it’s received in its funding drive for the facility.
They recently blew past the $50,000 mark in their fundraising efforts, and new donations come in weekly.
“It’s heartwarming to see the outpouring of support of everybody in the community and outside the community, from service groups and organizations, as well as businesses,” she says.
“They have reaffirmed what we have been saying, that the arena not only benefits users but also benefits our community in multiple ways.”
The society is waiting to hear back from the provincial government on a major grant to renovate the arena infrastructure, she says.