Determining the future of Memorial and McLaren arenas got underway this week with the first meeting of the Arena Task Force.
The group is tasked with evaluating the needs of the user groups, the condition of existing facilities, financial effects and funding options in order to make a recommendation to city council about how to meet Penticton’s arena needs.
At 66 and 45 years old respectively, both arenas are starting to show their age and are in need of significant investment in the next few years. Memorial Arena, in particular, figures large in work on dealing with the city’s infrastructure deficit.
The potential cost to repair and upgrade Memorial is $13.5 million versus an estimated $16 to 17 million to build a brand new arena to replace it. You can add another $1.5 million on top of that to demolish Memorial and convert the area to parking, according to a report by LTA Consultants.
The city’s infrastructure deficit was a big part of the conversation at the first meeting on Monday evening.
“The task force understands the financial challenges facing the city,” said Bregje Kozak, manager of facilities and staff representative for the task force. “They also recognize how important arenas are to a healthy lifestyle for both adults and youth in our community and want to come up with a solution that will serve Penticton for years to come.”
The task force includes six citizens selected to represent primary user groups and eight citizens from the community-at-large, selected from 18 applications.
Members were selected based on their knowledge of construction and engineering, arena operations and requirements, accounting and finance, and the history of hockey in Penticton.
“It is my hope that this committee can provide council with a sound, logical recommendation that will meet the community needs and benefit all citizens for decades to come,” said Stewart Ladyman, who was voted chair at the meeting, along with Larry Lund as vice-chair.
Committee meetings are open to the public and citizens have opportunities to get involved through upcoming tours and drop-in sessions. Citizens can also stay informed about the work and share their feedback at www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/arenataskforce.
Task force members include Jamie Materi, representing minor hockey; Pam MacDonald, lacrosse; Trevor Buttenham, Glengarry Figure Skating; Mike Hopkin, adult hockey; Fred Harbinson, Penticton Vees and Andy Oakes of the Okanagan Hockey Group.
The community representatives are: Stewart Ladyman, Frank Regehr, Bruce Millington, Larry Lund, Ryan Schulz, Garth Astles, Neil Jamieson and Larry Kenyon. Council representatives to the task force are Helena Konanz and Max Picton.