The Arena Task Force says a new twin sheet arena is the best option for Penticton. (Illustration courtesy City of Penticton)

Task force recommends new arena

Memorial Arena to be preserved as a dry surface facility

The Arena Task Force says Penticton needs a new arena.

After months of public engagement and discussion, the arena task force is recommending council direct the Strategic Priorities Fund grant application toward building a twin surface, multi-use arena on the west side of the South Okanagan Event Centre.

If the grant application is successful, Penticton could receive up to $6 million to invest in Penticton’s arenas.

“This option made the most sense for the grant application,” said Stewart Ladyman, task force chair. “It has a good chance of generating funding from grants as well as private donations and it meets the needs of the user groups today and in the future.”

With this option, minimal repairs would be performed on Memorial Arena and McLaren Arena to keep the buildings operational and safe for the next several years while the next phase of reviews and approvals are completed.

“This is an important milestone but it is just the beginning of the planning process,” said Bregje Kozak, facilities manager and City of Penticton staff liaison to the task force. The staff report to city council recommends more financial analysis of operational expenses and revenue opportunities for the preferred option, development of a funding strategy and more community consultation, all of which will inform the project business case for a final staff recommendation.

Once the new facility is built, Memorial Arena would be converted to dry surface to support activities such as lacrosse, pickleball and soccer while McLaren would be decommissioned.

Ladyman said there is a growing demand for arena time from both ice and dry surface users.

“There is a demand for more surface time in both ice and dry surface activities.

“A multi-use facility offers more flexibility to accommodate a wider range of uses which means better use of our facilities day and night, and year round,” said Ladyman.

Related: Arena task force narrows down to five options

The option is estimated to cost $33.9 million and would help meet Penticton’s arena needs for the next 50 years.

Penticton city council will review the recommendation for the grant application at a special meeting on July 25 starting at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.