Kimberley City Council had a long discussion over the fate of the Marysville Arena on Monday evening, ending with the decision (not unanimous) to go ahead with phase one of the ice plant upgrade. However, even the Councillors voting for proceeding indicated they did so reluctantly.
The ice plant at the arena is out of date, and the building has been operating on a variance from the Boiler Inspector until grant money could be found to do the upgrade. However, the City was not successful in obtaining grant money this year and another variance was requested to allow the arena to operate this winter.
Coun. Darryl Oakley said that the Inspector was not inclined to grant a variance again, and City staff negotiated a deal where the City would demonstrate their intention to complete the upgrade by constructing the building to house the ice plant this year, at a cost of $188,000, and then put in the new ice plant next year. The new ice plant must be situation in a separate building from the arena.
It is that deal that had Council somewhat concerned.
“It is a difficult situation the City is put in,” Oakley said.
“I find it interesting the Boiler Inspector asks us to build an empty building or we don’t get a variance. We should have been given the variance and been allowed to continue to seek funding.”
Mayor Ron McRae said the building was an indication that the City was going ahead.
But Oakley argued that the variance should not be tied to constructing an empty building that has nothing to do with the health and safety issue of the ice plant.
“I can’t get unstuck on how putting up an empty building should relate to getting a variance. The empty building has no effect on the safety issue.”
Coun. Don McCormick agreed.
“The value of Marysville Arena is not in question,” he said. “But fundamentally by approving this we are approving the larger project by default. We don’t know where the back end funding is coming from for this and for a lot of projects like the flume, the Sun Mine, the north wall of the Civic Centre, which may hit a crisis at any time.
“We’ve talked about a service review for two years and it’s not done yet. A lot of data in that service review would be valuable in making this decision.”
McCormick said that he didn’t like to see the City being reactive instead of proactive.
Other Councillors had difficulty with the situation as well.
“I don’t like the situation we are in,” said Coun. Kent Goodwin. “I wish we could see a service review. We are basically committing to spending $500,000 next year. But without that we will have no arena at all and $500,000 isn’t a huge amount to get an arena. Marysville Arena is not as costly per day as the Civic Centre. I’m prepared to support it, but I wish it wasn’t happening this way.”
McRae said he doubted Kimberley was the only City having to be reactive to issues with aging infrastructure and facilities. However, he acknowledged by voting to go forward Council was indirectly committing to spending the additional money to upgrade Marysville Arena.
“The timing of it isn’t good,” McRae said. “We are committing almost $200,000 to the building. If a year from now we don’t have the cash, we might have to take steps.”
Coun. Jack Ratcliffe said he would support the building but would not guarantee he’d support Phase 2 when the time came.
Coun. Bev Middlebrook said it was a tough decision and the timing was bad, but Marysville Arena was well used. However, she felt the flume was the priority project and she couldn’t support the motion.
“We can defer next year and not operate the arena,” Ratcliffe said.
The motion to spend the money on the building to house the ice plant passed with Councillors McCormick and Middlebrook voting against it.