Is your community arena too old to stay in the game? It’s a question the city of Ottawa staff will now spend months studying.
“This is very preliminary,” says Ottawa’s Director of Community Recreation and Cultural Programs, Linda Tremblay.
Tremblay and her staff presented the “Arena Optimization Project” at the city’s Arts, Culture and Recreation Advisory Committee Tuesday. The project is looking into the city’s 44 ice-pads, studying what can be done, if anything, to save aging city-run arenas.
“A lot of these standalone arenas, their average age is 46-years,” Tremblay says about the single-pad arenas,
“So we really need to take a good hard look at: Do we keep it? Do we fix it? Do we repurpose it? Do we rebuild new combining it as a dual-pad which is more efficient?”
Tremblay says the biggest issue is a decrease in usage. She says they have trouble selling ice-time.
“I know people will never realize that because they still have trouble getting ice-time between 5 and 8pm, however 9, 10, 11pm were hours we used to be able to sell and we’re not selling those anymore so the demand has shifted.”
The city report says since 2014, seasonal ice-rentals have decreased 10,000-hours.
“We’re always clamoring for city ice, it’s the cheapest ice in town,” says Ottawa Girls Hockey Association President James Wojtyk, “it’s difficult to get ice.”
Wojtyk says if his association can’t get city ice-time they often have to turn to larger, newer, privately-run facilities, that cost significantly more,
“It is $185 an hour at city ice, just in terms of Richcraft it goes to $260-$280 and at Carleton University upwards of $300 per hour,” says Wojtyk, “half the allure is playing in those old rinks.”
Wojtyk worries what arena closures will do to sports like hockey,
“The registration will just get more expensive and hockey isn’t getting any cheaper, and kids will just sign-up in other sports.”
Tremblay says it’s too early to say what rinks may be at the centre of the changes. Public Consultations will be held in November with reports going to committee and council. Ottawa city staff plan to present recommendations on the plan next spring.
Residents can give their feedback online at Engage Ottawa.