The future of the Kitimat Ice Rink stirred things up briefly at city council’s budget deliberations.
But the argument was not so much about what the decision should be, rather when it should be made.
Council was working down the list of requested capital expenditures when they got to a replacement dehumidifier for KIR and councillor Mario Feldhoff moved the $45,000 item.
However, it was pointed out that this was putting the cart before the horse, that the question of KIR remaining open had to be settled first.
Recapping what had happened last year, municipal manager Trafford Hall said council had decided during its 2010 budget deliberations to close the facility in order to save operational costs and capital expenses such as this one.
It then reversed its stance.
The situation facing council was much the same as last year’s budget: save $150,000 a year in operating costs, lose $75,000 in revenue and save capital costs: “That’s what’s on the table,” he said.
Councillor Randy Halyk pointed out council had received a report from administration indicating that Tamitik Arena could handle all current ice users.
However, he would like to see KIR stay open “if we can afford it.”
Feldhoff said that given the feedback from the community last year and having “buffered our reserves quite significantly last year”, he was not yet at the point where he wanted to shoehorn all ice users into Tamitik and have people forced to play hockey at 6 a.m. or midnight.
“If the population continues to drop, we can revisit it.”
Colleague Rob Goffinet said his problem was making a decision on KIR in the middle of the budget process on the assumption there would be enough money to do so once they had finished.
On the broader issue, he noted council had reversed its KIR closure decision for a good reason after citizens made it clear they needed KIR.
However, he added, “That’s last year, but we’re not in last year.”
Goffinet also suggested that while there were people who would prefer two rinks, “they are not realistic and I think they are being very fair. They realise there could be justification to save about a quarter of a million dollars in this budget.”
Councillor Gerd Gottschling moved tabling KIR until everything else had been done.
Feldhoff saw no need to delay, saying he didn’t need another petition to know there was a strong desire in the community to keep KIR open. And he still believed savings would be found elsewhere in the budget.
The tabling motion having been defeated 4-3, council approved keeping the rink open and the proposed $99,000 in capital expenditures.