The Bulkley Valley School District have a proposed $100,000, 10-year deal with the Town of Smithers for 200 hours of ice time per year. Smithers council agreed to the district’s proposal at its last meeting.
The deal would bump the district up from a secondary user through its joint use agreement to a primary user. Any hours beyond 200 would fall under the secondary joint use.
This deal will allow the district to work with other arena user groups to schedule the current Smithers Secondary School hockey program, school skating trips, and a new elementary school hockey program for about 25 Smithers and Telkwa students.
Grade 6 and 7 students are already signed up and waiting for the new arena to open.
“For those programs it’s important to have a lot of ice time, especially for the off-peak times for the arena. This is important to get a bit of security and plan to ensure that future students can get involved in the program as well,” said school board trustee Frank Farrell.
“The board was interested in making some kind of contribution,” said superintendent Chris van der Mark, adding that district schools had up until now been using the arena for free.
The superintendent also said tying more programs into arena use meant continuity was also needed.
Matthew Lowndes will be heading the new elementary school program after training in Calgary with Hockey Canada this past summer. He will be bringing students to the arena on Mondays and Thursdays.
“They’ll be focusing on skill development, different aspects: passing, shooting, stick handling, skating, goaltending, checking. Build up their hockey skills,” said Lowndes.
Assistant superintendent Mike McDiarmid said the budget takes into consideration buying equipment for students who can not afford it. He said the program would count towards physical education credit.
Five new buses
The district school board passed a bylaw to buy five new buses at its last meeting in its current form last Tuesday night. The cost of the buses was priced at almost $533,000.
The only added route will be to bring Houston students to Smithers for trades programs according to superintendent Chris van der Mark. The smallest new bus will be making that run.
“That’s the only added route; and it’s a mini-bus… they can hold 24 kids,” said van der Mark.
The other four, larger school buses will be used to replace older buses on routes already bringing kids to school.
New trustees for Smithers and Telkwa were chosen by the Nov. 15 elections. The newly elected board will have its first meeting Dec. 9.