Proposed changes to arena and canteen services sparked quite a debate at Monday’s regular Chatham-Kent council meeting.
Evelyn Bish, director of community development, provided a presentation to council, which outlined various recommendations after staff conducted a service review.
Bish said the main issues across the board are loss of revenue due to decreased usage and increased operating cost.
West Kent Coun. Bryon Fluker moved the following staff recommendations:
- Reducing the three-person staff at William K. Erickson Arena and Chatham Memorial Arena to two;
- modifying the weekday non-prime time hours of operation at arenas to better reflect the current demand for ice rentals and ice programming;
- explore outsourcing canteen services;
- restructuring canteen supervisor positions;
- implementing a ‘holiday-discounted last-minute” rental rate of $100/hr.; and
- approving a base budget adjustment of $106,319 to reflect the declining revenue for ice programming and rentals, resulting in a net savings of $50,998.
Fluker also moved a recommendation to create a tiered-pricing system for arenas with abutting arenas in other communities.
He added two more recommendations, one which will have staff analyze improving the access and availability of renting recreational facilities in Chatham-Kent and having staff investigate an “ice-back policy” similar to the one in Leamington.
Such a policy helps ensure groups such as minor hockey or figure skating don’t get penalized for cancelling already booked ice time. It’s a way for these groups to save some money.
Many ideas floated around the horseshoe during the discussion as well.
Chatham Coun. Bob Myers said he would like to see Chatham-Kent offer one free hour of skating at every arena in Chatham-Kent.
South Kent Coun. Trevor Thompson said running each arena as an individual business unit, as opposed to a centralized system for arenas, could be an answer moving forward.
“Arenas are all of Chatham-Kent’s problems rolled into one,” he said.
Mayor Randy Hope said the lack of provincial and federal funding, compared to past years, has a significant impact on arenas in Chatham-Kent.
North Kent Coun. Joe Faas said more marketing needs to be done.
“It would make ourselves more competitive,” he said.
Council, after much debate, eventually passed the motion.