Council to debate Fish arena’s fate Nov. 23

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The future of the H.W. Fish Arena in McLennan deserves council’s attention, members agreed at its Nov. 8 meeting.
Therefore, council called a special meeting for Nov. 23 in council chambers to discuss the future of the iconic facility, which was close last winter and this winter due to the cash-strapped council’s budget limitations.
“This is a big topic,” said Mayor Jason Doris.
“I’d prefer a special meeting,” added Councillor Sue Delaurier.
Councillor Marie-Anne Jones agreed, but brought another issue into the conversation.
“How can we even talk about the arena. . .without a strategic plan?” she asked. “How it ties into our vision.”
A strategic plan is set by council and helps guide them in future decision making.
Council recognizes if they open the arena, taxes will increase to pay for operations.
“We should do this relatively quickly,” said Doris.
The 6:30 p.m. meeting is open to the public but they will not be given a chance to speak.
The arena’s fate was also discussed by the old council Oct. 12. The last year the arena was open in 2019, ice rental was down to eight hours a week with operation losses totaling $137,000.
At the meeting, Delaurier said she spoke with an M.D. of Smoky River resident who was concerned the arena will remain closed.
“. . .but they are M.D users,” she told council. “McLennan taxes go up [to cover costs], not the M.D.’s.”
Former Councillor Terry Calliou strongly advocated keeping the arena open.
“Shutting down an arena, it’s like ripping the heart out of the community,” he said.
Delaurier said it made no sense for the Smoky River region to operate three arenas for a population of 4,500 people. Falher and Donnelly also have arenas.
“It’s the biggest [white] elephant we have in town,” she said.

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