If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to help shape your city, then now is the time.
One of the biggest issues we face is the future of Memorial Arena — the 66-year-old rink is part of our history, but the classic design is in need of some serious attention.
We did have an engineering firm do some testing earlier this year, and while a couple of the beams had some ‘issues’ we still have a couple of years before the next required inspection. The engineering and cost reports are available online at: www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/memorial-arena.
One rumour I’ve heard is that the city would like to replace Memorial with a parking lot — that is simply not the case. While a study did highlight that parking at the South Okanagan Events Centre complex will be at capacity six to eight times a year; that still leaves us with 357 days a year where parking should not be an issue.
Another common concern is why we want to expand the ice surface to NHL size. I think NHL size is a misnomer; a standard rink these days is 15 feet longer and five feet wider than Memorial. Yes, we have managed with the smaller surface for years, but if we are going to invest millions in a facility, shouldn’t we consider upgrading it to current standards? What else could we do to make the layout more functional, be it the concession, dressing rooms or other amenities?
Don’t forget, this facility was built to the standards of the day in 1950 and by today’s building code we have some upgrades we need to address.
Shouldn’t we also look at how other user groups could be better accommodated?
If you would like to be more involved, we are creating a 13-member Arena Task Force. We are looking for six stakeholders from Memorial user groups and seven members from the community, preferably with knowledge of engineering, construction, accounting, facilities, architecture, finance or the history of Memorial Arena. The task force will be evaluating the pros and cons of refurbishing and remodeling versus an all-new facility. You can apply online at ShapeYourCityPenticton.ca by Dec. 6.
As part of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, we investigated demand for our existing four sheets of ice. Our situation is unique because the world
renowned Okanagan Hockey School is utilizing non-prime-time ice during the day and during their summer camps. The school generates nearly $20 million in annual economic impact to our city and contributes almost $700,000 to city coffers in addition to $260,000 to the local school board.
I use the Okanagan Hockey Group as an example because I think we need to consider focus when we look at future plans for facilities and recreation amenities. Should we try and leverage the things we are renowned for, such as soccer, hockey, cycling, or triathlon? Or, do we try to be all things to all people and maintain a broader mix of facilities at a more basic level? Perhaps we need to consider partnerships with neighbouring communities to provide shared/joint recreational amenities?
I can appreciate many people have fond memories of Memorial Arena as a place where their children or they themselves played hockey, where they witnessed special events or hockey history, or where they simply go to stare at its marvelous wood design. Emotion and passion are powerful feelings, but we are also going to need a measure of practicality when we look at the options.
I encourage you to visit ShapeYourCityPenticton.ca to get more information about Memorial Arena and comment on what you would like to see happen or incorporated into our future ice arena facilities.