Let’s go skating! That’ll be $5 million please.

All together now…

There’s a rink, on the Hill, funded by a parliamentary bill…

I’m sure you’ve all heard of it by now — the $5.6 million outdoor skating rink being built in Ottawa. I’ve seen it in Facebook memes slamming Prime Minister Trudeau and as the lede in many a news story recently.

$5.6 million for a temporary outdoor rink. That’s pretty rich.

Now a few paragraphs in to many of these stories you do learn that the budget for the rink on Parliament Hill includes the setup, tear-down, some private security, insurance coverage and the attached facilities like change rooms and bleachers. It also includes the cost of bringing 32 peewee hockey teams from across Canada to Ottawa to compete in a special Canada 150 division tournament from Dec. 26 – Dec. 31. The rink will also be moved when the tournament is done, to an as yet unnamed Canadian community. That’s part of the bill too.

So yeah, it’s not quite as egregious as it appears in the headlines and memes.

Still, it’s allowed the opposition parties, particularly the Conservatives, to tsk loudly at the excess, and shake their ever-so responsible heads in sorrow at the fiscal silliness of the Liberals. And to ask questions like – we’ve got the world’s largest skating rink on the Rideau Canal a kilometre or so away, why the new rink?

The answer of course is, because Canada 150.

Reports say Canada 150 events have cost $500 million — the hockey tournament and five million dollar rink probably being the last of the celebrations.

Remember the giant rubber duck in Toronto Harbour that was somehow supposed to make us think patriotic thoughts? All part of that $500 million.

Now yes, government funding went to communities across the country for Canada Day celebrations and that was nice. The funds allowed a few extras, like more Canada Day swag, right here in Kimberley and Cranbrook. And local Chambers of Commerce and others who organize these events appreciate and rely on the funding. So that’s a good thing.

But, as always when a giant government bureaucracy gets involved, there are bad, or head-scratching, things that happen as well. Like giant rubber ducks. And $5 million skating rinks.

That duck may have started small in some deputy Minister staffer’s office, but once it ground through the wheels of state, it was one big bird.

Same with the skating rink. Someone probably had some quintessentially Canadian memories of the back yard rink and thought ‘what could be more Canadian?’ What better way to commemorate our 150th year? Let’s flood a rink on Parliament Hill. All we need is some boards and a hose.

Oh, foolish staffer. Sad, little mid-level bureaucrat. Your thoughts are cute, your plans so simple.

But this is government. What is their role except to provide unnecessary complication? Let’s consult a few more staff, strike a rink committee, arrange for permits, hold some hearings, maybe a report. And Bob’s your uncle, we have a $5.6 million rink, complete with hockey tournament.

And the wheels of government go round…

carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

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