WELLS: Walking on Fake Ice

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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

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Recent comments

  • Rb
    March 14, 2014 - 23:57

    As Marlene has stated she does not dislike the idea of having fake ice put in the stellarton rink .. But it should not be top priority. Since you, Jim, Were born and raised in stellarton and I'm guessing drive and walk down the roads there everyday you would see that there are pot holes all over foord street. Would you be okay being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire or blown tire while having full knowledge that if they put $300,000 into paving the roads this wouldn't have happened to you and other tax paying motorists? instead they used it for fake ice that would hardly get played on. ? Probably not. So instead of bashing Marlene wells on stating her opinion on how to better the town of stellarton you should really think about the outcomes of the use of the money and where it should really go, instead of where people want it to go. It should go where it is needed especially since there isn't much money to go around, and even more especially since for five weeks the stellarton tax payers had to boil their water. Now does fake ice seem more important. ? Not likely. Well done Marlene. :)

  • Heather
    March 09, 2014 - 22:06

    Well said, Marlene. As usual, you hit the nail on the head. Too bad some people can't see the forest for the trees. Keep on keeping on, Sis!!

  • Holly
    March 07, 2014 - 21:56

    Jim.... get a grip and take your head out of your arse man. You be brave and bold enough to write a damn column and say the facts of the town. Marlene may not be native to these parts and neither am I but she's got balls enough to call it as she sees it. She speaks the truth like it or not it's all true facts. That's my opinion and were all intilited to em. Over and out!! Keep putting the truth out Marlene, cause I'm picking up what your laying down ;) Good reading as always :)

  • observing it all
    March 07, 2014 - 16:04

    I can see by the non-existent use of grammar and capitalization that you are of average to below average intelligence, so I will put this to you best I know how. The column is an opinion piece, and is the opinion of the writer, hence why it is called an opinion piece. The writer does a very good job expressing her opinions and backs them up with facts. The only fact you got right is the fact she wasn't born here, but you know what she lives here and therefore is considered from here. Nowhere in any article does she say that she doesn't have Stellarton pride, but having to boil water for 5 weeks is unacceptable, just ask the Holiday Inn owners if they agree with her. In regards to the rink, and the roads, she also hasn't said anything that others are not thinking, and if you check the asphalt plants were open last summer, but that didn't get the roads paved. So I applaud your pride in your community, but it’s no stronger then Ms. Wells’ pride as she is standing up and writing about it, to try and stimulate conversation and action to effect change. Writing behind a computer and ripping on Ms. Wells telling her to leave is surely the proper attitude. You keep pushing for the out-migration of people, which will surely get the roads paved.

  • stellarton resident
    March 07, 2014 - 07:15

    I am in full agreeance. I have a young son that I someday want to put through minor hockey but I dread the thought of the rink being still around at the time. I would prefer to see it turned into a multi purpose building for bingo,storage, a farmer's market....whatever you desire. But when I played hockey 20 years ago the fog barn was the least favorite to play in and is even more so now . It is a money pit when it comes to hockey, the population is dwindling and we have the wellness centre in our own back yard. It really makes no sense to keep thos building being used as a rink. Hopefully someone on council sees these opinions and takes them to heart instead of anyone's past agendas.

    • Marlene Wells
      March 07, 2014 - 12:34

      Thanks for your thoughts. If you want your opinion heard call the Town office and ask to speak to the Mayor. I'm sure he would value your input. Also, you can write a letter to the editor of this paper so that other can peak up as well.

    • Marlene Wells
      March 07, 2014 - 13:27

      Thanks for your thoughts. If you want your opinion heard call the Town office and ask to speak to the Mayor. I'm sure he would value your input. Also, you can write a letter to the editor of this paper so that other can peak up as well.

  • jim
    March 07, 2014 - 06:40

    Im tired of this marlene wells bashing this town. You are not a native of here. Yes its not perfact but if you attended council meetings you would know that the roads wait till frost is all gone before you can patch because no ashphault plants are open till spring. Also the water treatment plant is back up running fine. So i take offense to all the bashig and negative attention you put towards this town. If you dont like it here MOVE. I am a born and raised stellarton boy and i have pride in my town regardless of its faults.

    • J....
      March 08, 2014 - 10:13

      Ahhh ligthen up and have a drink Jimbo, its people like you who give places a bad name. Good Job Marlene, someone got to stand up to politcal corruption, it's everywhere! An Old Friend....... ;-)