Synthetic ice for the Stellarton Memorial Arena is a classic case of a great idea that needs careful, cautious consideration.
Discussion of the possibility came up this week at a meeting of the town’s rink commission, as recreation director Paul Corbin made a presentation on this kind of surface. It has the advantage of serving the purpose of the typical floor, even for such uses as rollerskating, but with application of a special lubricant can also be used for ice skating.
Such a floor would be there – for interchangeable uses – year-round. Synthetic ice also offers the huge money-saving advantage of not relying on an ice plant.
But reservations raised by Coun. Ken Francis and others included the cost of such a project, pegged at $300,000, in a relatively aged arena building, 69 years old.
That has to be a key factor in any look at this idea. To paraphrase an authority on many a subject, from common sense right on up: this is reminiscent of advice from Jesus that you don’t sew a piece of new cloth on an old garment. The implications are self-evident.
An upgrade in recent years to the arena was the roof, but we can anticipate other repairs are in order, as with any aging facility.
We also have to take into consideration the attachment to this arena – so named as a memorial to war veterans from the town. When its future was called into question a few years ago, a grassroots response was that the town should maintain it.
Be that as it may, it requires regular injections of funds to do so.
As Coun. Denise Taylor suggested, an independent study is in order to assess needed repairs before embarking on something new.
Add to this, the projected return on such a capital cost through rentals is a tricky exercise at best.
It would be good to hear from the individuals and groups that weighed in before when the arena’s future seemed in jeopardy, what ideas people have about possible uses for the building and how they feel about such an investment.