Financial matters freezing in Stellarton without taking on rink proposal
I was truly taken aback a couple of weeks ago when I read in The News that a proposal was made to Stellarton town council about the possibility of investing in 'fake ice' for the town’s ice rink.
In case you missed this story, here is some background. Stellarton Memorial Rink was completed in 1947 and is the oldest rink in the county. Ken Francis of the Stellarton town council has been quoted as saying that even though there has been quite a bit of money spent on the Memorial Rink that you can still see “there is more daylight coming in through the building than before.”
The proposal for the fake ice says it would cost the town up to $300,000 to install top-quality synthetic ice on the surface of the Stellarton Memorial Arena. Paul Corbin (God love him, he’s doing a fantastic job), recreation director for the Town of Stellarton, said some work would have to be done to accommodate the new floor because it needs an even surface; however, maintenance would be very low because the fake ice doesn’t require any ice-making equipment or a Zamboni.
“If you don’t add the lubricant on it, it can be a great floor that only needs sweeping once a day,” he said. “It requires cleaning once a day and when you add lubricant, you are good for the day.”
According to a Hockey Nova Scotia spokesman, the governing body would not approve any games being played on synthetic surfaces at this time since more study would be needed on the subject. It could become a premium practice facility in the county, but minor hockey teams would have to play games out of another rink. It is also doubtful that the other leagues that currently use the rink would want to play games on the surface. So, if the surface is less useable, why even consider this option?
I don't want to lessen the work of the recreation department. I understand that with budgetary cuts the department is likely on a shoestring budget at best, and probably struggles to maintain a line item with every passing budget year. Let me be clear, if all things were equal, I could get behind this idea of fake ice. In a perfect, even a little less than perfect world, it is a fabulous idea! Ice year round, very little maintenance on a dual-purpose surface, and no refrigeration system costs, ever. No brainer, sounds like a great plan. And I like it.
But the Stellarton town situation is not perfect, and is far from it. Let’s consider other financial issues that are facing the town.
We still have a main road through the town that rides likes a moguls course at the Olympics. In a column last winter I wrote about the issue and talked about the massive potholes of Foord Street. Some of those things could swallow up small cars! They are all still there, and are reopening with the thaw-frost cycles of the winter.
I wrote then about Ross Landry and Mayor Gennoe getting together to get the road paved. It is my understanding that the road is considered a T-3 road, meaning that there is money at all three levels of government for this project, if the will is there. So this year I put it to Peter MacKay, Pat Dunn and Joe Gennoe, come on guys, get it together. You can do this! The Feds even put a line item in their budget for upgrading of municipal roads and bridges. As a taxpayer at all three levels, I don't see how any other project that involves spending money can outweigh this project. But maybe that's just me.
In last month’s column I talked about the Stellarton Police department and how the town says that cost is a serious consideration in continuing with the town police. I bet those guys could use $300,000 toward their efforts. Sort of on the same subject, the town is also facing whatever settlement that is owed to Amby Heighton for his wrongful dismissal.
And let's not forget the costs of a prematurely deteriorating membrane in the brand new 'state of the art' town water supply. Last I heard there is still more work to do on that project which could be quite costly with materials and labour. Remember that five-week boil water order last fall? How much did that cost?
Again, I don’t want to lessen the importance of having our local rink, but with the Wellness Centre in our back yard, which we are paying for too, can the Town of Stellarton really keep a town rink going with declining use and income? And then consider investing $300,000 plus upgrades and installation for fake ice? This is not rocket science, and the council shouldn’t be wasting time thinking about it. There are far more important money matters at hand in Stellarton. This council should know better than to walk on fake ice.
Marlene Wells is a born and bred political junky, wife and mother who calls Pictou County home. Follow Marlene on Twitter: MarleneWells