After requesting input from the public and conducting a full feasibility study the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has decided twinning Kal Tire Place to the north is the best option.
Doug Ross, Director of Recreation Services for the City of Vernon says the top options were:
- a stand-alone arena
- twinning Priest Valley Arena to the west or east
- twinning Kal Tire Place to the north or west.
They looked at whether land was owned or had to be acquired, zoning requirements, parking, site prep that would be required and the costs involved in that. Ross says they also looked at the time it would take, and operational efficiencies that could be gained by twinning the facility.
“When you factored all those things in, the Kal Tire Place North option came out as the best option,” says Ross.
That option is going to cost $13.9 million dollars which, on paper, is far more expensive then repairing and renovating the old Civic Arena but Ross says it is all about how you look at it, in the long term.
He says maintenance and repairs to the old structure will continue to cost millions of dollars.
“The Civic Arena is already 77-years-old. In order to keep the facility operating beyond five years it suggested that we would need an additional $5.7 million, and then beyond 10 years another $5.2 million, So, now you are up to $10.9 million to keep it open beyond 10-years and you still have a 90-year-old building,” explains Ross.
He says it was an option and it could be done. But after everything was repaired and fixed you would still have a smaller, non-regulation size ice sheet and you would be operating another stand alone facility. (The Civic Arena's ice sheet is non-regulation 180-by-80 feet while an NHL surface, which would be put in at Kal Tire Place is 200-by-85 fee)
He says by combining everything into one building there are also some significant savings via operational efficiencies.
“Quite simply, in order to operate two stand alone facilities your need a minimum of eight staff people. Whereas if the two facilities are joined together you can operate it with five people, you immediately have a 40 per cent savings in staffing costs,” says Ross.
Adding that there will also now only be one ice plant, to run and maintain and one zamboni to clear both sheets.
“When you add all those things up you can save a considerable amount on annual basis. We projected it out over 15 years you are saving well over $2 million,” says Ross.
The suggestion will now be brought to the people of Greater Vernon who will choose whether to support the borrowing of $13 million for the 400-seat, NHL-sized ice sheet at the north end of Kal Tire Place.
The question will be brought to referendum and coincide with the municipal election in November.
“Although this will cost $13.9 million the committee feels the long term efficiencies make it the most viable choice,” adds Ross.