White Rock council votes to explore twin rink

Semiahmoo Minor Hockey president says he's "encouraged" the city is looking to address the shortage of ice time in community.

The City of White Rock will look at a business case for the twinning of Centennial Arena.

Proponents calling for more ice time in White Rock say they are “encouraged” by the direction the city is taking to address the shortage, after council voted Monday to explore the twinning of Centennial Arena.

“This is probably the most visibility we’ve had on ice-time issues in a number of years now, so I’m very encouraged on the direction we’re going,” Ian Maguire, president of Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association (SMHA) told Peace Arch News Tuesday. “We’re happy to hear the city is taking it seriously, and we look forward to working with them.”

The issue of an ice-time shortage for local hockey players and figure skaters was brought to council June 15, when Maguire told council members and staff that his organization spends $600,000 each year on ice time outside of the community, and urged the city to take action for more ice space.

On Monday, White Rock’s director of leisure services, Eric Stepura, presented a report outlining three options the city could undertake to address the issue.

The first, to convert the Peace Arch Curling Rink to be used for other ice activities, including 3-on-3 hockey, would come with a price tag of close to $1.5 million.

The second option, to twin Centennial Arena, is estimated to cost $10 to $12 million, plus up to $3 million more for the additional parking.

The third option – and the one recommended by staff – was for the city to maintain the status quo, thus not providing any additional ice time despite the need.

Council voted to receive the report, however, Coun. Megan Knight tabled a motion – unanimously carried – for staff to work with SMHA and White Rock Skating Club to prepare a business case for the twinning of Centennial Arena, for recommendation for the next financial-planning session in the fall.

“There is a real need in our community for more ice time, and I think we need to come up with some solutions,” Knight said.

While Maguire said SMHA is hopeful that Monday’s decision is a step in the right direction, he acknowledged that building a new ice rink would be a large investment for the city.

“To build a rink is a huge capital project,” he said. “The city doesn’t want to build something that’s not going to last and continue to meet our needs for a number of years.”

The issue of ice time has been a concern for SMHA for years. In 2013, the association hired a consultant who determined that the community had enough ice space for around 400 players – far less than the more than 1,000 who currently play in White Rock/South Surrey.

Ice time is listed as one of White Rock’s 2015 strategic priorities, which acts as a guideline for the city’s planning activities.

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