Former arena to remain status quo for the time being

By Karen Fallon

Councillor Diane Pouget says the advertised open house designed to “harvest” public input regarding the future of the former town arena was misleading to some residents as they were not expecting to comment on the public land at the site.

“When people went there they thought it was just for the arena, not ball diamonds, tennis courts and other park facilities.” said Pouget, at the May 9 council meeting.

According to a report by Dennis Laporte, director of recreation and culture, the former arena is currently used as a storage facility for the parks department as well as office space for the horticultural supervisor. And the cultural center is being used as a rental facility by various groups.

Although “a broad spectrum” of comments had been gathered from the open house held April 14, councillor Carolyn Davies says more input is needed including that from experts in the field.

“There are all kinds of dreams and schemes that can happen,” she said. “I’m glad to see we’re not moving forward yet.”

Council directed that administration in public works, treasury, planning and recreation and culture review the comments made by those attending the open house.  They are then to  report back to council on the feasibility of the options expressed to allow for planning and budgeting to be considered.

This will also address the land use and infrastructure at the site such as ball fields, tennis courts and other park facilities, noted Laporte.

We are looking at an arena that has outlived its life span, says councillor John Sutton. “It makes sense to look at the whole area.”

“In some way shape or form we would like to see green space but we are open to possibilities and ideas,” added Sutton, who spoke of a “blue sky” list of ideas.

Comments made at the open house included: “  The building being demolished due to cost of refurbishing along with the cultural center; creation of a farmers market and/or flea market; keeping the building and surrounding area recreational in nature; having a curling rink and using it to provide indoor RV and boat storage.

Mayor Wayne Hurst says the building and surrounding land will be the focus of “many, many” discussions, which may even include the construction of a new municipal hall and/or fire hall at the site.

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