City to Skate Forward with McMeeken Upgrade

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McMeeken Centre

After a heated debate over costs, City Council voted 7-3 in favour of moving forward with the set-up of a steering committee to oversee demolition of the 51-year-old W. J. McMeeken Centre and construct a new, $25 million twin-pad arena to replace it. An additional $1.1 million will also be spent for architectural and engineering services to get the project off the ground.

The passing of this resolution also means that city staff will now be authorized to apply for infrastructure funding for the project when it becomes available, as well as investigate options and costs for demolishing the aging landmark, which greatly surpasses the 32 year lifespan of the average rink.

These new ice pads are slated to be NHL sized, with enough seating for 300- 500 spectators per pad.

The new McMeeken steering committee will include:

  • CAO Al Horsman (and his future replacement)
  • chief financial officer/city treasurer
  • deputy CAO Tom Vair
  • the director of community services
  • the director of planning
  • manager of community arenas
  • manager of recreation and culture
  • manager of facilities and maintenance; and
  • two city councillors

Toronto-based company LeisurePlan International Inc., brought in by the city as an early consultant on this initiative, came to the conclusion that there’s enough of a demand here in the Sault for a twin-pad arena, despite having access to both the Rankin and Soo Pee Wee Arenas.

This decision exnays any interest shown by Sault College or Algoma University, who both expressed interest in housing single-pad arenas on their campuses, but weren’t able to commit to any funding for capital costs.

Each council member voted for this initiative as follows (with the exception of Coun. Hilsinger, who was absent):

  • Bruni – Against
  • Shoemaker  – For
  • Hollingsworth – Against
  • Gardi – For
  • Vezeau-Allen – For
  • Scott – For
  • Dufour – Against
  • Niro – For
  • Christian – For
  • Mayor Provenzano – For
The city will make it’s last payments on the John Rhodes Community Centre in 2020 and the GFL Memorial Gardens in 2021, freeing up $1.65 million in annual debt-servicing dollars to help put towards the new facility.

10 COMMENTS

  1. This should have been done years ago. It was originally part of the Community Centre proposal, but our “cost conscious” Council of the day decided waiting a decade would save them money.

  2. K Lynn Pszeniczny suggests a roller skating rink. So, rebuild and make it in to that. Definitely, it would be a good thing for the public and bring in some new things for the young ones. We need this in the community. It would be great to get the kids off of the computer and onto the ice. It’s a fun sport and activity. We haven’t had it in years bring it back.

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