Arena fundraising deadline looming

Date to raise $400,000 for second arena moved up to April 15

An April 15 deadline has been set for the community to raise $400,000 for the completion of Smithers’ second arena.

The fundraising deadline was moved up from April 30 to allow Town of Smithers council time to discuss the project at their April 22 regular meeting. At the meeting, council will go over which aspects of the project to cut back on if the fundraising drive does not meet its goal.

Deputy Mayor Frank Wray, also a member of the Second Sheet of Ice advisory committee, said parts of the project that could be scaled back include the seating opposite the players’ benches.

“Our number one option would be to take things out, for now because we are definitely committed to not having the project go over budget,” he said.

But because the cost to install the bleachers at a later time would be more, there may be ways to make up the shortfall, Wray said.

“There are options,” he said. “We could use some funds from our reserve. I don’t think it’s an option council wants to look at but it’s one way we could go.”

With less than a week remaining, the fundraising drive has been gathering momentum. More than a dozen new donors stepped forward last week and as of Monday, the total had jumped by more than $30,000 to nearly $310,000

Also last week, Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach and his family put out a challenge to residents to contribute financially to the building of the second arena.

Bachrach said he and his family will personally donate $100 (up to a maximum of $1,000) to the project for every $1,000 personal donation received.

“We have young kids and we’re users of the arena,” Bachrach said. “We see the new rink as being a huge benefit to our community. As mayor, I think if I’m asking other community members to come forward, I have to have some skin in the game as well.”

But donations of less than $1,000 are important, too, he said. Donations of as little as $20 are also being accepted.

“I think it would be so cool if everyone in the community pulls together to really make this a community legacy,” Bachrach said.

Individuals and businesses that contribute $1,000 or more to the project will receive recognition on a permanent plaque in the new arena. Donations of $5,000 and more will receive more prominent recognition.

“I have total faith in the committee’s fundraising skills,” Wray said.