Questions arise over proposed ice surface

Leading up to Saturday’s referendum to borrow $13.2 million for the project, 16 information booths have been set up

Plans for twinning Kal Tire Place are dominating debate in Greater Vernon.

Leading up to Saturday’s referendum to borrow $13.2 million for the project, 16 information booths have been set up, with 675 people stopping by.

“It’s been really good to hear the concerns and questions,” said Doug Ross, the City of Vernon’s director of recreation services.

“There are some reoccurring themes. Something starts on social media and people show up at the information booths.”

Driving much of the discussion is parking at Kal  Tire Place and what may happen if a second ice sheet is constructed into the north parking lot.

If the project proceeds, Ross says there will be a net loss of one parking space as existing parking is reconfigured and a new area is opened at the south end.

“When the race track issue is resolved, there will be a plan for other amenities there. We will need parking for those amenities and we can tie parking  to Kal Tire Place,” said Ross.

People are also asking why Greater Vernon needs another arena.

“It’s not an extra rink, it’s a replacement for Civic,” said Ross.

Questions have also arisen about ice facility demand.

Ross says Civic is booked weekends from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekdays from after school to 10 p.m. from September to April.

At Kal Tire Place and Priest Valley Arena, the ice is used from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekends and from 3:30 to 10:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., the facilities are at 75 per cent capacity with hockey clinics and other events.

Civic is not used for non-prime time ice to reduce staffing costs.

“If we have a twin facility, we create non-prime time capacity with the same staff person already at Kal Tire Place. There is no additional staffing expense,” said Ross.

Some residents have suggested significant dollars will still be pumped into Civic while the twin sheet is constructed, but Ross says that’s not the case.

“We would spend a minimum amount to keep it operational,” he said, adding that Civic would be decommissioned when a new facility opens in fall 2018.