The five recommendations that the Penticton Arena Task Force have narrowed down to. City of Penticton graphic

Arena task force narrows down to five options

Public feedback shows no runaway decision on building new arena or renovating

Five options have been identified for the future of Penticton’s arenas, none of which have clear majority support by the public.

According to feedback results gathered from 561 respondents, that city council heard at a special meeting on Wednesday, what rose to the top of importance when making a decision about the future of Penticton’s arenas is to provide facilities for a wide range of user groups and to keep it affordable for the user groups.

“The preference for repairing or building new continues to be close,” said Joanne Kleb, community engagement officer.

Related: Arena Task Force reports in

Out of the five options the Arena Task Force have narrowed down to, only one recommended decommissioning Memorial and four recommended to shut down McLaren. Facilities manager Bregje Kozak said Option 3 seems to fit most of the criteria that those noted as important, based on the public feedback results. It would come in at a capital cost of $33.9 million and would give 10 years of more life to Memorial and includes the creation of a new twin ice rink. McLaren would be decommissioned in this option and Memorial turned into a dry surface only.

“I would say that is the Cadillac of all these options. What this one does, it meets the vision of the task force and the ability to provide fully functional surfaces plus a dedicated dry use facility,” said Kozak.

Related: Cost of new two-sheet arena higher than renovating existing facilities

The public feedback results were completed between June 28 and July 8 and Kleb said to have a controlled sample of public information they needed 380 or 390 forms returned to have a 99 per cent confidence rating.

“So, to get that level (561 respondents) of response is fairly significant in representing our closely aligning what a controlled survey would deliver,” said Kleb, adding that there was a high participation among 19 to 39 year olds and 40 to 64 year old demographic.

The main question of just how the upgrades or new construction would be funded remains to be answered. Arena Task Force chair Stewart Ladyman said there is a $6 million grant that can be applied for, but an option has to be submitted by July 30. It is why they will be giving their final recommendations to council on July 25. Ladyman said they will suggest an option to council that will give them the best chance at getting the grant, which includes energy efficiency.

“Council will be forced, if they want to go for this grant, to make a very determined decision on which way to go,” said Ladyman, adding that the city would hear back if they received the grant by the fall.

Related: Memorial Arena debate skates on

Depending on the decision council makes at their next regular meeting, it could be a waiting game until fall to see what their next move will be. Should they not receive the grant they will have to explore the five recommendations from the task force again.

Other options considered for funding that the Arena Task Force sub committee has explored as potential streams are private donation, naming rights, rental revenues and debt serviced by casino funds.

“We have already started talks with some of our more famous Pentictonite hockey players … that is in the wind,” said Ladyman.

At their July 17 meeting, the Arena Task Force will evaluate the options further in order to prepare a recommendation for council on July 25 to consider for the Strategic Priorities Funding $6 million grant application.

The task force will be at the community market on July 15 and 22 to receive more feedback from the public before they make their recommendation to council. All of the studies and updates from the Arena Task Force and the public feedback are available at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/arenataskforce.