Reader urges City council to reconsider arena options

I have done my best to speak to council and they still don’t seem to hear so I am making a plea to the citizens

I have done my best to speak to council and they still don’t seem to hear so I am making a plea to the citizens of Lacombe to put pressure on council to reconsider option two of spending $14 million to upgrade the Barnett Arenas.

The public needs to know all the facts.

Our Lacombe minor hockey consists of roughly 325 kids. That equates to around 23 teams.

Ninety per cent of which reside in Lacombe. You add this to 10 ringette teams, figure skating, recreational hockey, and men’s hockey, and you have a full schedule.

The facts are when Lacombe reached 6,000 people the ice schedule was as full as it is now.

The solution to the problem back then was to add another ice surface. Lacombe is a City now and we are at a population of 13,000 yet there is no added ice surface in the City’s 10-year plan.

Does anyone see the problem here?

Many will ask, “What has this got to do with the $14 million?” The fact is we have to have a starting point to a solution.

If any of you have been to the rink and in the dressing rooms while parents are changing their kids you will notice there are on average 15-20 bladed kids and roughly 15-20 other bodies in the same room.

Many will say why so many? That’s not the way it used to be.

Let me inform you of what has happened in the past 20 years.

Safety standards on equipment has changed the size of equipment. This makes the bags larger which in turn takes up more room.

The size of teams has gotten bigger because there is insufficient ice to facilitate smaller teams.

This puts more bodies in an already cramped room. The number of dual income families has increased resulting in even more bodies in the dressing rooms. The siblings of the participant have to be in the room because they are not to be left unattended in a public facility and there is no one at home to look after them.

I have personally seen three to four strollers at one time in these rooms while the parent is putting their child’s equipment on.

Council has agreed to option one, ‘with amendments’.

Are we falling back into old habits of bandaging things together? None of us can wrap our heads around $14 million let alone $10 million.

The fact is we know our building is good for another 40 years (according to Stantec). If this is indeed the case $14 million is a bargain, when you compare it to spending $40-$60 million to replace what we have. As a tax payer the difference is 6% versus 9%.

That extra $4 million does all the upgrades, so we are told. These are upgrades that will have to be done in the future anyway.

I for one would rather pay 9% now and be done with it, rather than pay 6% now and another 9% five years from now.

We all know from past experience that the extra $4 million will be $8 million, due to inflation, five years from now.

We need to have a plan and right now I feel we are once again throwing little bits of money at things and hoping they go away.

This problem will not go away and we have to get our heads out of the sand and face it.

We have to make a plan for a new ice surface in the next five years or we will be forced to put a cap on the number of teams we can facilitate.

I for one will not be the one to say who plays and who doesn’t.

We all know it takes a lot of planning to add an ice surface and it’s not going to get done overnight.

The fact is we are able to have a starting point with this decision. Let’s start being a City and stop acting like a hamlet.

Brent Talsma

President of Lacombe Minor Hockey