With a warmer-than-average winter keeping Castlegar’s outdoor ice rinks at Kinnaird Park closed, Castlegar mayor Maria McFaddin has been pondering whether the amenity is worth the money and staff time it requires.
At a council meeting in January, McFaddin asked staff to bring a report to council outlining how much has been spent on the rinks each year and how long they were open.
“I know the community loves it when it’s open,” said McFaddin. “Just with the staffing constraints we have, I do wonder if we’re only getting a week out of this every winter, with the changing weather, is this really worth our staff’s time?”
Operations manager Samuel Shine brought the stats to council at their Feb. 6 committee of the whole meeting.
Over the 2019/2020 season the rinks were open for 46 days at a cost of $14,000. The money was needed for set up and take down as well as maintenance with a large portion of the budget resulting from having to use over-time staff hours.
Over the 2020/2021 season, the rinks were open 24 days at a cost of $14,800.
In 2021/2022, the cost was up to $15,400 with 40 open days.
With nothing but warm weather in the forecast for the next few weeks, this year is shaping up to be one of the lowest use years ever with the rinks only open for six days so far. So far the cost has been $7000 and take down has not happened.
For the previous three seasons, the rinks cost an average of $401 per open day.
If a cold snap doesn’t happen in the next few weeks and the current season concludes with just six open days, the average for this year will be more like $2300 a day.
Upon hearing the report, councillor Cherryl MacLeod said, “I think we knew it was bad, but I don’t think we thought it was that bad.”
Council did not discuss any actions related to the report. Several councillors and the mayor were absent from the meeting, so the subject will likely make its way back to the council table at a later date.
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