Opinion

EDITORIAL: Civic Arena process required

Many people will remember what happened when the physical plant at Armstrong’s Hassen Arena failed. The season was cancelled, forcing hockey players, figure skaters and others to  travel out of town to maintain schedules. Hardships ensued.

And a similar scenario could occur any time at Vernon’s Civic Arena, particularly because the refrigeration system is ancient.

“We are rolling the dice every time we put ice in the arena,” said Doug Ross, the city’s recreation manager.

That’s why the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee decided Tuesday to move towards a November referendum on a new ice sheet.

Obviously a new facility will come with a price. It could be upwards of $14 million if a similar-sized structure was built, but if an arena is twinned with Kal Tire Place, fewer seats will be needed and stand-alone mechanical infrastructure wouldn’t be required. A basic arena could be $5 million.

Civic could be repaired, but other issues may arise in the 1938 structure. Should taxpayers throw good money after bad?

No one likes paying more taxes but the bottom line is there is a significant demand in the community for ice time, whether it is figure skaters or oldtimers hockey. If Civic Arena suddenly has to shut down because of equipment failure, a situation similar to what occurred in Armstrong will be unavoidable.

Elected officials won’t be popular with some residents, particularly given that a $70 million master water plan is already headed to referendum.

But if the politicians didn’t consider the current and long-term recreational needs of residents, they would be avoiding their responsibilities.

 

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