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Roth: Recreation centre ice pad underutilized

by Mike Robinson

ABERFOYLE - Puslinch councillor Ken Roth wants to find ways to better use the Optimist Recreation Centre ice pad here.

On Jan. 6, Roth forwarded a motion to create an ad-hoc committee to look into the matter.

Because the township’s capacity to install and retain ice is impacted by weather conditions, he said it is prudent to review service levels and look at other ways to optimize the functionality of the facility.

Roth suggested a committee of council be established to analyze past and present revenue data, expenses and user fees for the ice pad.

The committee would also be tasked with exploring new opportunities to optimize the use of the ice pad, including potential ways to extend the ice season or using the pad for other sporting activities.

Roth said he struggles with the facility simply because “most of the time when I drive by it appears to be closed.

“I get a lot of complaints from residents that it is not kid-friendly, prices are too high. I think we should research everything.” He added, “I’d like to see the facility be a lot busier than what it is.”

Roth suggested, “First off, I think we need to decide if this is an arena, or an outside ice pad or somewhere in-between.”

He said the only reason he proposed an ad-hoc committee is that he believes the recreation committee had a pretty full plate.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer was glad to see this as an area of focus.

“It is one of our resources which I believe is currently underutilized,” said Bulmer.

However, he said he is concerned with the creation of another subcommittee and questioned why this matter could not simply be a special project for  the recreation committee.

He said that committee is not only familiar with the specific facility, but it looks at overall recreational facilities.

“I want to see this work, but I’m not sure it needs to be a separate committee,” said Bulmer.

Roth said he attends most recreation meetings, “and it seems to be they struggle to get decisions made.” He also wasn’t certain it falls directly under the mandate of the recreation committee to look into the operations of the facility.

Roth noted that because of the weather, there was no ice this fall ... “so the whole facility sat empty.” He then asked “is there anything we can do to make the ice-pad usable ... for something like ball hockey?

“I think this is an important enough issue that we need a separate committee,” Roth said.

He added “as long as it gets done” he wasn’t as concerned about the process, but, “I think if it’s done through the recreation committee, it will be more costly. I don’t think they can handle it - tied in with the other meetings.”

Roth said “I don’t think the issue would get the attention it deserves.” He stressed the issue is just the ice pad, not the gymnasium or the rest of the building.

Bulmer said the recreation committee could strike its own subcommittee to deal with the issue.

Councillor Wayne Stokley also struggled with the issue but said, “I do believe if council gave the (recreation) committee the mandate - they could handle it.”

Stokley said there are a number of “what-ifs” including whether the recreation committee is interested in taking on the additional role. He understood staff is already looking at alternative uses to prolong the life of the pad.

At the same time, Stokley said it is important to have public input. “The public is very interested in the use of the facility and want to be heard.”

He did however, suggest that if council moves forward with an ad-hoc committee, he would like to see a community forum on the issue.

Stokley agreed this work needs to be done. He was happy with Roth’s idea, but wanted to ensure there was a clear mandate on how to move forward without stepping on any toes.

Bulmer saw no harm in asking the recreation committee to see if they are interested in taking this on.

Mayor Dennis Lever agreed that something needs to be done. He said he liked the idea of having a group that can stand back and look at the whole picture. He said the recreation committee has the opportunity to comment on this, “But I do not think that waiting is the right thing to do.”

The motion carried to go ahead with creation of the ad-hoc committee.

January 15, 2016


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