A consultant report suggests Memorial Arena and McLaren Arena both be demolished to make way for a twinned-rink facility. (Brennan Phillips Western News)

A consultant report suggests Memorial Arena and McLaren Arena both be demolished to make way for a twinned-rink facility. (Brennan Phillips Western News)

Letter: Civic building demolitions should go to referendum

Opinion: We don’t even know where the new arts centre and twin rinks would go?

Editor

I am not the least bit surprised that the city is going ahead with plans to demolish our historical Memorial Arena, McLaren, and the Library/Museum complex. I sat in on the public input sessions and quite frankly, there was not the “support” they are claiming.

First of all, the fact that these buildings have not been kept up is the real issue. And now the taxpayers are going to get nailed. It felt to me like it was a done deal, anyway. The “public engagement” was just smoke so they could say they did it.

Second, the task force that was set up a few years back around the Memorial Arena was never acted on in the way it should have been. We wouldn’t be in this boat if they had been. When I asked where this new double ice surface was going to go, they didn’t know. So the location, cost etc, and what the final impact on taxpayers could be was not answered, except with “we don’t know.” How can anyone be expected to give an accurate opinion to form decisions without this key piece? It’s ridiculous!

Third, it seems to me the Memorial is being torn down because they need more parking for the casino, period. The excuse that the arenas’ ice surfaces aren’t NHL size is bogus. Why would little kids or teens or seniors need full surface to play and practise on or learn to skate? Memorial should be designated as a historical site for Penticton. And at the very least the shell could be preserved and the inside could be redone. This would be much cheaper than buying land and building new surfaces. I thought that was what SOEC was supposed to achieve. Commercial development at McLaren? It would need to be very specific to not interfere with the residential area, the tennis and ball grounds.

Fourth, the library/museum building. This is another architecturally historic building. There is lots of room to expand and keep it close to schools. The big question is where is all this land “downtown” is for these new buildings? The city should never be selling any of its lands. It will cost us in the long run. The fiasco with the outdoor rink should tell us all we need to know on how badly things can go. The citizens are not being listened to but we are expected to pick up the costs. Timmins Street is a case in point.

These are massive changes and the city should be putting them to referendum with full answers for where these buildings are going and what the actual costs are before anything is decided. A hundred million dollars will not be the final total, it never is. Please demand the city to put these to referendum.

Barb Burke

Penticton

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