There’s still hope that O’Leary will someday be able to build a permanent outdoor ice rink structure at Centennial Park.
For now, however, council is trying to decide if they will build a temporary rink for this upcoming winter.
In his report to council, Recreation Director Andrew Avery stated announcements on two major federal grants the town has applied for, and are hoping will help fund a development project at the park, has been put on hold as result of the election.
They are not expecting to hear if they have been approved for either the Canada Community Revitalization Grant or the second round of the Canada Healthy Communities Grant until either mid-October or November.
At their last meeting in June, before they took a summer hiatus, council was trying to decide if they would allocate some of the town’s gas tax funding towards their proposed playground improvement project at the park. In a special meeting on June 30, council in fact decided to submit as part of their capital investment plan to the province to allow gas tax funds to be used for the project. However, if other funding applications were not successful the allocation could be nullified.
The town is looking to use $100,000 of its gas tax funding for the estimated $385,000 playground project. As of June 29, 2021, the Gas Tax Fund has been renamed the Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF).
Part of the plans to improve the town’s park could also include constructing an outdoor ice rink. Mr Avery, who attended the town’s monthly meeting on Sept 8, said if council wants to build either a permanent or temporary structure this fall some decisions have to be made. He indicated trees have been cleared in an area at the park where the rink could be set up, with stump work only remaining. One item that needed to be discussed was if the town was going to build a pump house for the water needed to flood the ice surface. In the proposal for the outdoor rink project that was submitted last spring, it was estimated the total cost to construct a pumphouse/electrical/washroom building was around $75,918. That number includes the cost to set up electrical, plumbing and fixture work for a proposed splashpad at the park.
Mr Avery said he didn’t have numbers for how much a temporary rink would cost.
“It’s the flooding of the ice with water that we are at a crossroads with right now,” he said.
Mr Avery said until the town receives clarity on funding a temporary rink doesn’t have to be set up in the park, it’s just making sure the ice surface can be flooded on a regular basis and the rink can be maintained.
“Maybe we should wait to see what the winter brings,” said Councillor Darren MacKinnon. “We don’t want to prepare for all of this and then have a mild winter with no ice. It’s a big investment.”
Mayor Eric Gavin brought up the fact council had discussed setting up a temporary outdoor rink last year.
“We have to make a decision are we going to do it or do we walk away from it,” he said.
Councillor Judy MacIsaac said walking away from creating a rink could result in having some very upset residents in the town.
Coun. MacKinnon suggested council explore options where a temporary rink could go if not in the park, how much it will cost to build one and should try by their next meeting to make some kind of decision on the matter.