After councillor Doug Elford recently announced he wanted to look into the cost of twinning the existing Cloverdale Arena, two other Surrey City councillors are saying “hold on.”
Both Brenda Locke and Linda Annis said Cloverdale definitely needs a new arena, but twinning the existing rink (built in 1972) would be a waste of money.
“We don’t need an antiquated arena with an extra sheet tacked onto it,” Annis told the Cloverdale Reporter. “We need a new arena. We need the design that was put forward.”
She said Cloverdale deserves the ice surfaces. “There’s no need for more talk. It’s time to build what was promised and underway before (mayor McCallum) stopped it.”
Elford told the Cloverdale Reporter Sept. 19 he wanted to set up a committee to look into the feasibility of twinning the existing arena. “We have to put staff on it and we’re not there yet.”
He added the committee will look into everything. “I know that they’ve done a lot of legwork on this already. So hopefully we’re not reinventing the wheel here. When it was initially put on hold—it wasn’t killed—the idea was to revisit this particular project later.”
Annis said people can sugarcoat it anyway they want, by saying it was put on hold or postponed in the last budget, but the truth is the arena project was cancelled.
“There are 12,000 new people moving into Surrey each year. By and large, they are young families and we need to keep up with infrastructure. Kids need to be involved in activities; it keeps kids out of trouble.”
John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, also said Cloverdale is in dire need a new rink and not a refurb on an old building.
“I can’t go hardly a day without hearing someone tell me about the need for an arena here. Families that have kids in ice sports are having to leave the community to play, or they have these incredibly early or late ice times that are not appropriate for kids. It can be a huge struggle.”
Aldag also said the federal government has an infrastructure program that could kick in 40 per cent of the cost to build a new rink. He said the only catch is that you have to have municipal and provincial buy-in.
Generally, he said, the city needs to prioritise the project, then it gets sent to the provincial government, who then presents all the provincial projects to the federal government for funding.
“We’ve already used that program to help build facilities here,” Aldag added. “We successfully used funds under the federal program to help build the Cloverdale Athletic Park.”
Annis said she is 100 per cent in favour of partnering with the provincial and federal governments to get that funding.
Councillor Locke said Surrey is already lacking in ice surfaces even after a new three-sheet rink was built in Bridgeview, adding that a new arena for Cloverdale must be part of the dialogue in this year’s budgeting process.
“Yes, we built three rinks in Bridgeview, but we closed the North Surrey Rec Centre, so those rinks are really only plus one.”
Locke said she also doesn’t support twinning the 47-year-old Cloverdale Arena. She said it can be almost more costly to retrofit existing buildings.
“We have never talked about (twinning the arena) at council. I don’t know where (the idea) is coming from. Perhaps the mayor’s talked about it, but I haven’t been involved in any conversations about it,” she said.
“Surrey is under-iced when we compare cities across the province, and under-iced when we compare cities across Western Canada.”
Locke said Surrey has the biggest school district in the province with roughly 72,500 students. (By comparison, Vancouver has roughly 56,500 students and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows has roughly 15,000 students.)
Vancouver has 10 ice sheets the public can access in 10 rinks (not counting the Pacific Coliseum and Robson Square—which both have public skating), Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows has five sheets of ice in two arenas, and Surrey has nine sheets in five rinks.
That means Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows has roughy one sheet of ice for every 3,000 kids, Vancouver has roughly one sheet of ice for every 5,600 kids, and Surrey has roughly one sheet of ice for every 8,000 students.
Surrey would need another 15 ice sheets to bring them on par with Maple Ridge and another four ice surfaces to bring them on par with Vancouver (six sheets if you include the Pacific Coliseum and Robson Square).
“If you want to do things for kids, you need the infrastructure.”