As reported in yesterday’s Bulletin, Kimberley City Council is grappling with the question of what to do with the Marysville Arena.
A discussion and vote on the fate of the arena will take place at Council on Tuesday, February 11.
Mayor Ron McRae has already stated his opinion that the City should keep the arena open by upgrading the ice plant, and seek opportunities to increase revenues and find efficiencies.
The Bulletin offered all Councillors an opportunity to express their opinion on the matter. Some have not made a final decision and chose to wait until Tuesday to speak their piece.
However, other City Councillors believe the decision to not proceed with the $350,000 ice plant upgrade, though a tough one, has to be made.
One of those Councillors is Don McCormick.
“The vote is – do we use taxpayer money to keep it open,” McCormick said. “All Councillors believe the arena should be open, but the question is, how do you pay for it?”
McCormick says the ice plant is only the tip of the ice berg.
“The fact is over one million dollars has to go into the Marysville Arena in the next few years,” he said. “The floor needs replacing as well as other repairs.
“It is unfortunate that the issue has turned into an emotional one. That’s because, one; it’s a perceived reduction in service, and two; it involves kids.”
The problem, McCormick says, is that the City is facing a long list of priority projects.
“Marysville Arena is not the only one. We have money committed to the Sun Mine, the flume and there is only so much money. Looking at Marysville Arena in isolation is unfair to the taxpayer.”
McCormick says that going ahead with repairs to the arena will place a burden on taxpayers.
“It is unfortunate that we are focusing on a single solution. Look at the curling rink. It was condemned a few years ago. But we had a community group that partnered with the City and figured out ways to get grants. It wasn’t all on the backs of the taxpayer. That’s a model that works.”
McCormick says that the demand for infrastructure and services is greater than the taxpayer can support.
“Unfortunately Marysville Arena is a lightning rod for the major issue we face. The hard decision about being able to live within our means needs to be made.
As for Tuesday night’s vote, McCormick says, “I am unequivocally not in favour of the taxpayers of Kimberley footing the whole bill.
“I’m not talking about tearing it down, I’m talking about finding partners and grants. If we can maintain it in a way that’ is affordable, fantastic. I hope we can find a solution, but on the backs of taxpayers.”
Councillor Albert Hoglund disagrees with McCormick.
“I agree with Mayor McRae,” he said. “If we shut down the Marysville Arena it will be disastrous. It’s a multi-use, 12-months a year facility. Why would we shut it down after we just spent $200,000 on the building to house the ice plant?
“The easiest time to shut it down would have been when Cominco closed and we lost 52 per cent of our tax base. But we didn’t, we struggled through and now almost all that tax base in back.”
Hoglund said he would have more to say Tuesday night but for him it’s not even a tough decision.
“Shutting it down doesn’t make sense.”