Council turns down Kin Park refrigerated ice surface plan

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C – A redeveloped Kin Park won’t be getting refrigerated rinks anytime soon after it was vote…

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C – A redeveloped Kin Park won’t be getting refrigerated rinks anytime soon after it was voted down by council.

On Monday,  Council members unanimously voted down the refrigerator rinks due to the cost. Council was presented three options costing between $2 million to $3.1 million. Costs would also include up to $30,000 to operate and maintain.

“There are a lot of places we can put those resources, whether it be capital resources or operating resources, that in my mind for our community are probably better uses,” says Councillor Gord Klassen.

The city has already budgeted $600,000 to install rinks in Kin Park without refrigeration plants.

Staff were asked to research the possibility of refrigerated surfaces to draw in more families during the fall and spring by creating more ice opportunities.

“It is a beautiful idea, especially when we have these gorgeous chinook days, but in our economy right now, I can’t see with the operation fund. I agree we could muster the capital funds… but I’m against it solely on the operation estimates for what would cost us annually.”

Councillor Byron Stewart suggested future council members could revisit the idea of refrigerated surfaces.

“In my mind, it doesn’t work today, doesn’t work now, but we have the information. It’s going to be kept by staff. If future councils, future development, it becomes a topic again, these numbers, we didn’t know what these numbers were until we got them. So it can be re-evaluated with the use of this report,” says Stewart.

In response to councillors believing the project could be revisited, Councillor Trevor Bolin says if it doesn’t happen now, it’s never going to happen.

“You can’t put the equipment underneath,” says Bolin. He suggested finding out the cost to install piping so the rinks could be installed in the future, which would cost around $900,000.

“I can see where the logic is about planning in advance,” says Councillor Hansen. “I would rather see that million dollars go towards something else in the park.”

Mayor Lori Ackerman favoured exploring the idea of the surfaces believing it would encourage more families to go outside, but isn’t for the costs presented.

“We’re a winter city, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pay for ice. I got lots of it on my driveway. If anyone wants to come skate, I usually do a few twists and turns as I’m heading up to the vehicle,” says Ackerman.

“Having these surfaces will probably make it a lot easier to have ice to begin with. It’s really the weather.”

The province recently approved just under $1 million for the first phase of the Kin Park redevelopment on the park’s west side.

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