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Where will the new arena go? Public weighs in

"I think it’s become obvious at this particular point we need more than an arena, but a community centre..."
west ferris arena 1 turl 2017
The Sam Jacks West Ferris arena. Photo by Jeff Turl.

The special committee to determine the fate of the West Ferris arena had their first meeting Wednesday morning to open the conversation and to figure out the direction of where to go.

“Because it was the first meeting of the committee, we talked about a number of different items,” Coun. Mark King, and chair of the committee said. “There is a basic road map that the committee is following.”

What came out of the meeting was the need for a public consultation session—determined to be happening on September 27, with further details to be determined. The special committee will comprise of councillors Mark King, Daryl Vaillancourt, Derek Shogren, Chris Mayne, as well as the mayor. Meanwhile, for the geotechnical studies, approval was given to provide staff with a budget of up to $60,000 to investigate potential sites, such as adjacent to Memorial Gardens, or the Steve Omischl Sports Complex, as well as other possible locations of consideration.

“We talked about a number of issues we are faced with,” King said. “I think it’s become obvious at this particular point we need more than an arena, but a community centre. We will be having a meeting in a couple days after the public consultation. Other major question that’s come out of this, is the discussion on the number of pads.”

King said he was aware of the concern over the cost of a larger facility to accommodate a second pad, but in the end, it would be more beneficial to both meet the needs of the community by reaching what was recommended by the MURF (multi-use recreational facilities) study, while also consolidating costs.

King wasn’t alone in this matter, while fellow committee member, Chris Mayne leaned towards two pads and believed the general idea of people discussing the matter to be the same.

“At this point, everybody on the committee is trying to keep an open mind, three sites have been proposed, rebuild on the existing, adding to memorial gardens or doing the complete new build at Omischl,” he said. “The only location I’ve heard people advocate for is keeping the West Ferris arena where it is, to see if we could rehabilitate it or use the current grounds.”

However, he noted that staff had informed them the costs to rehabilitate the existing arena are not realistic and to use the current ground of the West Ferris arena for a new double ice pad would encroach on existing green space for other recreational activities.

“The green space has value as well, we don’t want to take away, but add something new, which favours the Omischl, that makes more sense to me,” Mayne said. “At the gardens, we lose space on the football field too—not to mention impacting traffic in the area. Keeping it in West Ferris is another economic stimulus for an area that needs it.”

King said he was looking forward to hearing the public opinion on the matter come September 27, but in the meantime, has issued a poll to see where the community would like to see the new ice arena.

At just under 24 hours of being posted (at the time this story is written), 600 people have voted.

Attach to the Gardens: 84 (13.98%)

Steve Omischl Sports Complex: 233 (38.77%)

Behind Canadore Commerce Court Campus: 53 (8.82%)

Nowhere, don’t do it: 172 (28.62%)

Doesn’t matter: 59 (9.82%)​​​​​​​