A long-awaited feasibility study looking at the Buckhorn Sports Pad was presented to Trent Lakes Municipal Council at Tuesday’s meeting.
Representatives, from fsStrategy Inc. presented a 58 page report to council. The study looked at options to expand the number of days available to use the ice at the sports pad. Over the last six years the number of usable days declined from 70 to an estimated 31 if the facility had been opened in 2020/21.
The current facility was built in 2010 and it is not a regulation (NHL) size rink.
Council voted to accept the report but agreed to defer making a decision about how to move forward until all council members are present. Councillor Terry Lambshead was not at the meeting.
fsStratregy presentation recommended that artificial ice be used to extend the season, and offered three options including putting artificial ice in the existing facility, expanding to an NHL size outdoor facility and building an indoor NHL size facility.
The estimated costs of the three options are approximately $1,2 million to $1,4 million for the existing facility, $3.3 million to 4.2 million to expand to an outdoor NHL size rink and $7.8 to $10 million for an indoor NHL size facility.
The report noted that more than 84 per cent of the residents in Trent Lakes have access to an ice surface within a 30 minute drive and that 80 per cent of the respondents to a survey were satisfied with the existing outdoor rinks and sports pads.
The Trent Lakes Facilities Master Plan conclude that no new ice area is required and suggested the ownership of the sports pad be evaluated and that council consider transferring ownership to the Buckhorn Community Centre (BCC).The building is currently owned by the municipality but it sits on land owned by the BCC.
The rink is entirely run by volunteers and members of the Buckhorn Sports Pad Volunteer Committee.
Councillor Carol Armstrong said that after reviewing the report she was left with five messages:
1. the fact that the size and age of our population and the fact that only 32 per cent of the population is year-round don’t justify this large an investment especially when 84 per cent have a rink within a 30 minute drive.
2. All options assumes that responsibility for the sports pad would shift to the municipality
3. Other than advertising revenue, most income would come from groups outside the municipality
4. ice rental is in prime time which is when Trent Lakes residents would want to be skating, and
5. any options using artificial ice would operate at a deficit.
“Do we want to saddle our taxpayers with this?” she asked.
Mayor Janet Clarkson said that the rink is a major draw for kids, and although it comes at a cost there would also be a cost if we don’t look after local children.
“Sports facilities have the advantage of keeping little minds busy,” she said. “In terms of economic development we can’t leave the kids on the sidelines.”