South Peace News
A deadline is set for interested parties to take over operation of the H.W. Fish Arena at McLennan.
Council agreed at is July 11 meeting to an Oct. 6 deadline to accept proposals from interested parties.
Discussion was short although Mayor Jason Doris reiterated council’s stand they would prefer to see the building used for recreational purposes.
Other deadlines considered were Oct. 10 [the start of the NHL season], or the third Monday in September.
Council heard two inquires have been made regarding the building. Terry Calliou chaired a meeting weeks ago to see if there was interest, while CAO Lorraine Willier said a second party talked to her. She did not disclose the identity of the party.
Two months ago on May 11, council held a public meeting at the Elks Hall asking people if they would be interested in operating the building. It was generally agreed a society needs to be formed to raise money to reopen and operate the arena.
Council made the decision to close the arena the past two winters because of the deficits incurred by installing ice. Figures presented painted a grim picture. During the 2020-21 year, the deficit was $38,471.58 when the building sat vacant. Years there was ice in the arena, deficits ranged from a high of $105,658.33 in 2016-17 to a low of $82,475.68 in 2019-20.
“We just don’t have enough people using it,” Doris told the audience May 11.
“That’s the issue. That’s the problem we’re having,” he added.
“We can’t keep dumping it [deficits] on the taxpayer. It’s an expensive building to have, obviously.”
Council has indicated they will help any potential group operate the building. It would all be part of a negotiated deal between the party and council.
It is clear council does not want to operate the arena and the financial losses it incurs, but they also want to see it open for programs.
“We don’t want it to be an elephant on the corner,” said Councillor Sue Delaurier.