Kimberley City Council Chambers was packed with spectators on Monday evening as Council deliberated on spending $350,000 to upgrade the ice plant at Marysville arena.
In the end, Council voted five to two to go ahead, but not before much debate, some of it quite passionate.
Council heard from two delegations, speaking in favour of the repairs — Curtis McLaren from Kimberley Minor Hockey and Lynal Doerkson of the of the North Star Skating Club.
McLaren said rejection of the motion on the ice plant would in effect shut down the arena because if the plant wasn’t ordered in the next week or so it would not be possible to have it installed by next hockey season.
He said he wasn’t quite sure why Council had chosen the most expensive of options (that being an ice plant housed in a separate building) but regardless, they weren’t asking for a new arena, just maintenance of the current one.
He also said that yes, other towns only have one arena, but those without a second one just make-do with less practice time — it’s not an ideal situation.
“The Marysville arena is a huge part of the community, a big part of a healthy community.”
McLaren also touched on the economic benefits just one hockey tournament can bring to town.
He said that figures provided to him by the Trickle Creek Lodge showed a revenue of $66,122 this year in hockey related rentals of 439 rooms. Mountain Spirit showed revenues of $45,000, he said.
“I am appalled the City hasn’t come to the user groups before this,” he said. “Minor Hockey is willing to form a committee with the City and we are not opposed to increases in ice costs.
“1,629 signatures on a petition are numbers you can’t ignore. I urge you not to vote on a political agenda but on what you enjoy about Kimberley. A community that closes public buildings is not a community that is going to grow.”
Doerkson told Council that like Minor Hockey, the Figure Skating club was growing and would be looking for more ice time, not less.
He said he was disappointed that he had to learn about it through the newspaper.
“I read it and I thought really? Shutting down an arena in Canada? During the Winter Olympics in a city that has produced a world champion hockey team?”
He pointed out that Kimberley had lost the hospital, court house and mine but that was something the City couldn’t control — the decision on the arena, they could.
“It’s simply wrong to close this arena,” Doerkson said. “Maintain it until the citizens of this community unequivocally tell you otherwise.”