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Kimberley votes to save Marysville arena

CAROLYN GRANT/Daily Bulletin

Kimberley City Council Chambers was packed with spectators on Tuesday evening as Council deliberated on spending $350,000 to upgrade the ice plant at Marysville arena.

In the end, Council voted five to two to go ahead, but not before much debate, some of it quite passionate.

After all City councillors had their say in respect to the Marysville Arena vote on Tuesday evening, Mayor Ron McRae had a few words for the two dissenting councillors, Don McCormick and Darryl Oakley.

“I am extremely disappointed with councillors McCormick and Oakley for making this a political issue,” McRae said.

“To see open letters regarding infrastructure from councillors in the paper is unacceptable. Councillors must have their facts straight before they go to the public.”

Reached after the meeting, Oakley said that any data he received came from conversations at Operations Committee meetings with City staff.

“I have the utmost respect for our managers and staff. I appreciate them being candid in Ops meetings,” he said. “My question would be if the Mayor considers that not getting facts straight, where can I get my information? Where can any citizen get their information?”

As for turning the issue political, Oakley said he hasn’t even decided if he is running for re-election next fall.

“I view my role as a councillor to do the best I can for the city where I live. I’m not interested in the viewpoint that this is for a campaign. My interest when I put information out is to do just that.”

McCormick, however, had a very short response.

“We are elected officials managing taxpayers hard-earned money — of course it’s political!”

McRae said that both councillors are free to take a different position on what he said Tuesday evening.

“But when Mr. McCormick says, ‘We’ll see what happens next election’, that’s a political statement.”

Council heard from two delegations, speaking in favour of the repairs — Curtis McLaren from Kimberley Minor Hockey and Lynal Doerksen of the North Star Skating Club.

McLaren said rejection of the motion on the ice plant would in effect shut down the arena because if the plant wasn’t ordered in the next week or so it would not be possible to have it installed by next hockey season.

He said he wasn’t quite sure why Council had chosen the most expensive of options (that being an ice plant housed in a separate building) but regardless, they weren’t asking for a new arena, just maintenance of the current one.

McLaren also touched on the economic benefits just one hockey tournament can bring to town.

He said that figures provided to him by the Trickle Creek Lodge showed a revenue of $66,122 this year in hockey related rentals of 439 rooms. Mountain Spirit showed revenues of $45,000, he said.

“I am appalled the City hasn’t come to the user groups before this,” he said. “Minor Hockey is willing to form a committee with the City and we are not opposed to increases in ice costs.

“1,629 signatures on a petition are numbers you can’t ignore. I urge you not to vote on a political agenda but on what you enjoy about Kimberley. A community that closes public buildings is not a community that is going to grow.”

Doerksen told Council that like Minor Hockey, the figure skating club was growing and would be looking for more ice time, not less.

He said he was disappointed that he had to learn about it through the newspaper.

“I read it and I thought really? Shutting down an arena in Canada? During the Winter Olympics in a city that has produced a world champion hockey team?”

He pointed out that Kimberley had lost the hospital, court house and mine but that was something the City couldn’t control — the decision on the arena, they could.

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