After hearing from the delegations, speaking on the Marysville Arena Monday evening, Kimberley City Councillors were given an opportunity to state their opinion.
“I think we’d be going backwards if we close it,” Coun. Albert Hoglund said. “I agree there are priorities for capital expenditures, but to me this project is number one.”
Hoglund also pointed out that the City had no choice to go with the location of the ice plant in a separate building as that is what the Boiler Inspector required.
Coun. Don McCormick said he would vote against the motion to spend the money.
“I stand very firm in my conviction in opposing the motion,” he said. “The resolution doesn’t represent meaningful dialogue. We need a service review. It would prioritize projects. If the arena had been brought up in a service review two years ago, we wouldn’t be here now. A service review shows the highest respect for the taxpayer.”
McCormick said that when the motion was put forward to build the building at a cost of $188,000 last summer, he voted against it.
“We need to remove emotion from analysis. We can’t just react to the latest crisis. Wait until it breaks and fix it with taxes is an unacceptable approach.”
McCormick said that the proper path forward would be to work with the Boiler Inspector for another variance to keep the arena open; find money outside the tax payer, such as grants and engage user groups.
“We do a terrible job of engaging people,” he said. “There are more repairs needed to the Marysville Arena, as well as an estimated $1 million looming for the Civic Centre. Defeat this resolution and head on the proper path.”
Coun. Bev Middlebrook said the last couple of weeks had not been easy as she wrestled with the decision.
“I wish I could come up with a win win but I can’t. We’re not going to make everybody happy. Groups will have to step forward to help make things happen, but I’m afraid that if we close the arena, we won’t get it back.”
Middlebrook said she was bothered by the lack of community engagement leading up to Monday night’s decision.
Coun. Jack Ratcliffe said that he would support the motion but with reservations.
“My main concern is making these heavy duty decisions without a service review, but we can’t defer.”
“I’ve been back and forth on this,” said Coun. Kent Goodwin. “I voted to put up the building because we were caught in a bind — we wouldn’t have ice if we didn’t and ice times were already booked.”
However, Goodwin said he was very concerned about the $3.2 million in unfunded amortization currently on the City’s books.
“We’ve set tax increases at three times the rate of inflation the past ten years. Can we keep doing that? We need to look at the big picture. We need a service review. I’m troubled making this decision without that context.”
Goodwin said that he was hearing commitments from people from Minor Hockey and the figure skating club.
“Will you do it if we put the ice back in? Can we trust you?” he asked, to some hooting from the gallery.
There are more big costs coming down the road, he warned. However, Goodwin did vote to proceed with the ice plant upgrade.
Coun. Darryl Oakley had a prepared statement which he read to Council and the gallery. He said that he stood firm in his conviction to support the long term sustainability of the city. He also mentioned the need for a service review.
“Had a service review been done 26 months ago — 100 projects identified and only enough funds for six, possibly — through a process of open communication and dialogue, the Marysville Arena may not have received priority, but the imminent needs of the arena would have been flagged to the user groups. An important cause in our community would have been identified —with city staff and citizens working side by side to problem solve and find solutions.
“If this resolution passes today then it is business as usual — costs to the taxpayer with much more to come, folks.”
Finally, Mayor Ron McRae had his say, and said he was in support of replacing the ice plant. He also agreed that the process had not gone well.
“I am extremely disappointed with all of us with respect to this situation.”