Penticton Arena Task Force to be created

Council endorsed the recommendation to involve the community and appoint an Arena Task Force

A hockey player hanging out on the bench during a charity game last year at Memorial Arena

A hockey player hanging out on the bench during a charity game last year at Memorial Arena

One of the major user groups of Penticton facilities said it is imperative to maintain what they have built in the community that something must be done with the arenas.

After announcing Okanagan Hockey Group has a $19.1 million impact on the city, president Andy Oakes let his feelings be known about a future council decision on what to do with Memorial and McLaren arena’s.

Read more: Infrastructure back on the council agenda

“I’m not here to weigh in whether it is right to keep or not keep Memorial, what I’m here to tell the community is with existing user groups, we all need the facilities to be better and we need all of them to improve,” said Oakes.

For the long-term, Oakes said, there needs to be more than a Band-Aid solution.

“In my opinion, the best situation for the community is four full, functioning facilities to meet the needs of all user groups. What that means is a facility that is easily transferred from ice to dry floor space,” said Oakes.

Okanagan Hockey Group, which books 3,000 of the 9,000 hours of total time in city facilities, said all user groups need to start making plans for whatever decision city council makes. McLaren Arena is already planned to be down from March until the summer of 2017 for renovations.

“Any reduction of ice will be a negative impact to us and to all user groups. We need transparency so we can begin to put transition plans in place. All user groups are willing to sacrifice and adjust while we go through the changes, but we need to know what that looks like and not drag it out for a long period of time,” said Oakes.

On Tuesday, council endorsed the recommendation to involve the community and appoint an Arena Task Force consisting of six members from the user groups and seven members from the public.

Members of the public are welcome to apply from now until Dec. 6 at ShapeYourCityPenticton.ca or by leaving an application at city hall.

Appointments will be announced at the first city council meeting in 2017 with a timeline to complete their mandate of recommendations prior to June 30, 2017.

The 66-year-old Memorial Arena is in desperate need of repair or replacement. The cost of repair is estimated to be $13.5 million and replacement to be over $16-million.

Read more: Memorial Arena needs immediate work to keep users safe

Bregje Kozak, manager of facilities, said the glulam arches in Memorial are deteriorating and will have to be re-inspected by Spring 2018.