Cranbrook, BC (October 17, 2023) – On Monday night, Council received the structural condition review report of the Memorial Arena, completed by Bolen Engineering Inc.
One of the critical outcomes highlighted is the Safe Entry Plan, which is in place now to allow for the safe removal of equipment, skates and other belongings of user groups who use the Memorial Arena. This is good news, as they have patiently waited for an update. City staff under the support of the engineering team will remove belongings and equipment today (Tuesday, October 17, 2023). User groups and their organizations were advised of the plan late last week.
Brendan Bolen of Bolen Engineering outlined the feasibility of structural repairs to the Memorial Arena with Council. After excavating the foundation and examining the wall structure this past week, the findings highlight that structural repairs could be completed to extend the life of the Memorial Arena and, in turn, allow it to reopen for user groups. Administration will now take the engineers’ recommendations and start on costing the proposed repair project and timelines for consideration by Council.
Administration also requested the direction of Council regarding whether or not several scheduled special events should be cancelled to free up additional ice time at Western Financial Place. Council directed Administration to maintain the existing events planned, including The Glorious Sons concert, the winter Farmer’s Market in November, and ‘A Christmas Rock Story’ in early December. These planned events will take 24 hours per concert event, and 72 hours for the Market event for the three events, with set up evening before the event, use of the arena the day of the event and overnight take down for ice to be ready in the next morning. Cancelling these events to gain three days of ice time would have meant a cost to the City of $126,000.
Council further directed that Administration stop seeking special event opportunities inside Western Finance Place for any new events and make the additional ice time available to other user groups.
“We do have several hundred of our youth playing hockey, but we need to remember that Western Financial Place is a multi-purpose venue, and we, as a community, must be committed to that,” says Mayor Wayne Price. “All sides have to be willing to compromise to make this work, and it will be challenging for both Council and staff to make it work.”
Staff with Recreation and Culture, in partnership with Cranbrook Minor Hockey, the Cranbrook Skating Club and other user groups, has reorganized programming and ice schedules to accommodate as many groups at Western Financial Place as possible. This priority rescheduling began immediately following the announcement of the closure of the Memorial Arena for public safety back on September 26, 2023.
21 of the 30 regular user groups have opted for ice time, while the nine adult groups have opted not to use ice time, freeing up ice time for the youth programs.
The ice surface at WFP is booked from 5:15 a.m. to 11:15 p.m., seven days per week, with neighbouring communities like Kimberley and Canal Flats offering ice time at their facilities, too.
“We are fortunate to have the ice availability we do at Western Financial Place, and I commend our staff and all our user groups for working together to come up with ways to get as many kids on the ice as possible,” Mayor Price adds. “I am also very grateful to both the City of Kimberley and Canal Flats for making ice available as well.”
Staff with Recreation and Culture has made it a priority to examine other options to provide additional ice surfaces, including a possible temporary ice plant specifically for the Kinsmen Arena. Even with no ice surface at the Kinsmen currently, there is a waitlist for user groups who want to use the space for dryland training and other activities.
Looking ahead, the City will also be looking at improved, longer-term, proactive planning when it comes to recreation-related facilities by embedding all culture and recreation buildings into the City’s asset management plan, which is still in development stages. The City will also be conducting a Recreation and Culture Service Review in the upcoming year.
“This recreation needs study that will start soon will look at all the future recreation needs in Cranbrook, including ice surfaces. Through public consultation and expertise in this field, this review will guide us around future ice needs,” says Trevor Thors, Director of Recreation and Culture. “The results of this review could drive future capital expenditures, partnerships, and locations of future recreation facilities in the City.”
“The outcome of this study, that we as a Council endorsed, will be an important tool for Council to help make decisions going forward for any short or long-term solutions,” says Mayor Price. “As a community, we need to decide if we want a quick fix for the Memorial Arena or something longer term. If we decide we want something longer-term, the challenge will be around budget, and the reality is that we can’t afford that independently right now. Efforts to search for and secure some form of partnership or alternate funding sources would be necessary.”