Smithers Council tops up arena fund

Council moved to vote on a recommendation to approve the extension of $650,000 in borrowing funds from 2006.

During a committee of the whole meeting last week, Smithers Council carried several motions to bring the town closer to building a long awaited second arena.

“We’ve been working on this for 15 years and each time we get close they decide there’s another problem,” said Councillor Norm Adomit. “The problem is, we don’t have enough ice for the kids to skate on. We need more ice, so lets build more ice.”

Council first moved to vote on a recommendation to approve the extension of $650,000 in borrowing funds from 2006.

Although there was discussion to send the issue to a referendum, council ultimately approved the funds to bring the total available for the project to $3,655,658, sending a clear message council is dedicated to seeing this project completed soon.

The project is currently in the middle of a Ice Arena Schematic Design process to formalize the specifics of the construction of the project.

Council will also be approaching the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako to determine if there is interest in using Gas Tax Funds for the construction of a heat recovery unit that would use excess heat from the new arena to warm the BV Pool, as well as sharing the operating costs of the new facility with the Regional District.

During the meeting, Director of electoral area A, Stony Stoltenberg said he was ready to apply for a grant from UBCM that would be specific in covering the costs of the heat recovery system in the hopes of cutting heating costs for the pool which exceeded $65,000 in 2011.

After hearing the support from Stoltenberg council carried the motion unanimously.

However, during the discussion some councillors still felt there wasn’t enough money to build a full arena and community fundraising is key to seeing this project completed.

Al Mccreary, chair of the Second Sheet of Ice Committee, said mant residents in the past expressed interest in helping fund the project and the committee will take them up on their commitments.

“The next thing now is to sit down and make our list and approach people who’ve made commitments in the past that were waiting for council’s decision to endorse the project,” he said.

“Now that that’s taken place we now have the right to go back to individuals and corporations.”

For many residents a second sheet of ice has been a dream in the making for more than 15 years.

However, now with the town’s commitment to the arena and construction potentially beginning as early as March 2013, despite the fact the exact costs of the project are unknown, councillor Adomit is adamant these new commitments will get people behind the project and produce the extra funds needed.

“There’ve been a lot of people in town who have seen this project going and stopping, going and stopping,” Adomit said.

“Once they see it’s going to go, I think people will step up and start helping out.”