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LETTER: One arena, two ice surfaces required for region


EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter was addressed to the Municipality of West Hants and the Town of Windsor, MLA Chuck Porter, MP Scott Brison, the Birthplace of Hockey Steering Committee and the Newport and District Arena Commission, and copied to the Hants Journal.

Hants Exhibition Arena is located on Wentworth Road in Windsor.

I feel that the time has come for our various community interest groups and governments to be bold, in the spirit of the Ivany report, and build something that is a central sporting and community facility for the area. I believe that something great could be created from the unfortunate collapse of the Newport and District Arena.

My boys played minor hockey for 10 years, and this is the first year that we haven’t been in a rink. I attended early meetings for the Birthplace of Hockey arena at this time last year, and was excited by the potential. I heard ideas that had been talked about by West Hants parents over the years appear to finally be in a position to move forward. I don’t have the details of what happened over the past year, but I understand that a lot of work was put in, to have this addressed by both the Windsor and West Hants councils as well as the provincial government.

I understand as well, that this plan seems to have stalled. I have heard that King’s-Edgehill School will build a smaller facility on their own, if this doesn’t move forward soon.

And now we have the recent and very unfortunate, collapse of the Newport and District Arena, with the immediate plan to start rebuilding bigger and better, but only with the support of community funding, as insurance won’t cover the full plan, and they don’t want to wait for joint discussions.

Per the recent Hants Journal editorial, “Instead of waiting for the politics of the day to be sorted out, the Brooklyn-based rink commission is forging ahead with plans to rebuild.”

In the time that I have lived in Falmouth, I have witnessed many missed opportunities for a facility like this to be created, due to politics or desire to move quickly, including the rebuilding of the curling club after the fire, the new library, and the two pools that have been built (an indoor one at King’s-Edgehill plus the

outdoor one in Windsor). Although these are all great facilities, in each instance, there was an opportunity for pooled resources that would ultimately lead to reduced operating costs and create a community hub.

This has worked to our disadvantage in some cases. For example, I know that some people didn’t support the proposed new arena as it wouldn’t have a pool.

I am sure that a lot of the work that was done by the Birthplace Arena committee could be leveraged and updated to accommodate a two-ice pad facility that supports hockey and figure skating as well as other community activities, so that this project could move forward in a timely fashion.

In my vision, a two-pad surface could have limited seating on one ice surface and enough seating on the other surface to support the Valley Maple Leafs and other events with large attendance. Ideally it would also have a running track around one of the ice surfaces to promote parent activity while kids are on the ice and even have enough land to eventually put in an artificial turf field, to accommodate other popular sports (like soccer, rugby, and football).

I have heard various ideas for location discussed, including the Dill land beside King’s-Edgehill, reallocation of land on the exhibition grounds (and renovating the Hants Exhibition Arena instead of building new), as well as land up by the Super 8 motel, and the land in Garland’ Crossing that was proposed as an area for a new

fire station during the fire department debacle of last spring. It is not for me to decide the best location, as they all have their merits, but ultimately, I believe the local residents would benefit from a single multipurpose sports facility, that could have shared operational expenses. Building two rinks requires two ice plants,

two Zambonis, two power bills, etc.

I believe that all of those involved should also consider that people only have so much expendable money.

Each group is assuming the communities will donate to fundraisers. I am willing to support a shared project, both with time and money, but I will not support any project that builds two separate rinks in two communities that are a 10-minute drive apart when there is an opportunity to create so much more.

I submit this letter as a concerned taxpayer and someone that would love to see a larger vision applied rather than continue to fund multiple isolated projects.

 

Heather Bennett

Falmouth

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