Future of Dysart arena still unknown 0
The Dysart arena is in need of some serious internal repairs as floor leaks have caused environmental concerns, according to Reeve Murray Fearrey. Council expects to gut the entire structure, which will make it unusable until February 2013 at the earliest. ANGELICA BLENICH/HALIBURTON COUNTY ECHO/QMI AGENCY
While many questions about the future of the Dysart arena have yet to be answered, one thing is certain: Haliburton’s loss is Wilberforce’s gain.
A decision on whether to repair the arena, which has been closed because brine is leaking into the ground, or to rebuild it entirely will be made by council in the coming weeks, according to Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey.
Whatever the outcome, Dysart will have no ice this summer or winter, opening up an opportunity for the Keith Tallman Memorial Arena in Wilberforce.
“We’re more than willing to accommodate and help out,” said Jim Alden, arena manager and property supervisor for the municipality of Highlands East.
While Alden said he has not yet heard from the Highland Storm minor hockey association, he believes he will and has been contacted by some tournaments looking to move their event to Wilberforce in the meantime.
Highlands East Reeve Dave Burton believes the misfortune Haliburton Village is experiencing is a chance for the municipality to be a “good neighbour.”
“We have lots of room. In a way we’re helping our neighbour but there’s a lot of benefits in it for us as well,” said Burton.
The reeve believes the shift will bring economic benefits.
“I’m looking forward to having the additional traffic here,” he said.
The rates for the arena in Wilberforce are comparable to Haliburton’s, Alden said.
Dysart council first addressed the recent problem during a closed session meeting at the beginning of this month, during which a number of items were discussed including protection of property, staffing and environmental issues, according to chief administrative officer Tamara Wilbee.
Problems with the arena have come to council’s attention before, but have always been dealt with, said Fearrey.
“We recognized there was a problem with loss of pressure last winter. We shut that section down so there would be no environmental issue … we were able to keep the ice in because it was just a small section until the end of the winter. Then we fixed it immediately in the spring,” he said.
Months later additional leaks were identified and fixed, according to the reeve.
“Then we were told there were pin holes in the piping, which is 25 years old, and that the piping was done. So we had a choice to make.”
Council made the decision to have an engineer assess the building, concluding the structure was sound.
“Based on that we have gone out and have asked for different proposals,” said Fearrey.
Preliminary information has indicated that replacing the arena entirely would cost somewhere around $7 million, compared to renovating the inside at $1 million.
The former option means the ice would be gone for a minimum of two seasons, said the reeve.
“We’re trying to expedite this and reduce the amount of time because we know the economic impact of not having minor hockey here and these tournaments.”
To rebuild the entire structure would require a lot of borrowing, with a long future of paying off the loan, even if council is successful in securing grant money, said the reeve.
“The new grants that are out there, there is $41 million [available] for the whole province of Ontario … I know there’s at least seven applications going in from this county,” he said.
Fearry says there will never be enough money to build a $7 million facility.
“You’re going to get a maximum of $600,000 in grants,” he said, adding there is only 30 per cent of up to $2 million available.
Following council’s next meeting, scheduled for July 23, two decisions will be made, either tear the arena down and build something new or gut the inside.
If the first option is pursued there will be opportunity for public input.
“Quite frankly I don’t know what our options are without government money.”
Fearrey understands the desire to see a new complex complete with a swimming pool and recreational facilities, however, remains unsure if this is economically viable.
“We all would like one [a recreation complex], there’s nobody on council who wouldn’t love to have this facility here, however governments, both federally and provincially, have done things they couldn’t afford,” he said.
With $250,000 a year in lost revenue, the arena is already a costly venue, said the reeve, arguing council has been keeping it up over the years.
Whatever the outcome may be, Fearrey says the need to make a quick decision is there as to not lose any additional ice time.