For roughly 11 years, the Village of Canal Flats curling rink has sat empty — a target for vandals, an ongoing liability and an eyesore for the community.
Originally constructed in the late 1970s, the arena was at first quite popular, says Village Economic Advisory Committee (EAC) chair and former mayor Brian Woodward. However, as the years went by, usage of the facility waned until the village was forced to close the building.
“There have been various efforts by council over the years to generate additional interest,” Woodbury said. “Any calls for actually reactivating the curling rink, there’s been very little response.”
The issue of what to do with the now-dilapidated arena has come up during council meetings a number of times and on Monday, May 23, the question was once again on the schedule.
The two options available to council were either to authorize the demolition of the building for April 1, 2013 or refer consideration of the demolition to the EAC to hold public meetings and surveys on alternative uses for the facility.
Woodward himself had written a letter to council recommending the facility be repurposed, offering a number of possible uses, from a farmers’ market to a library or youth centre.
“It’s pretty evident that it’s not going to become a curling rink again,” Woodbury said. “If the community has some other desire for other alternative recreational uses, council wants to fully explore that before demolishing the building.”
During the council meeting, councillor Gilbert Delorme expressed his desire to see the building demolished, partly because of the expansion of the ice skating arena next door, which sits just yards away. However, he also said that he wants to see if there are any other options available before they “trashed it.”
Councillor Marie Delorme said she didn’t see the village coming to a solution by talking with the public as without one central idea, it becomes nearly impossible to gauge the cost of bringing the building back up to standard.
This led council to set a deadline for the EAC to present one specific idea by October, so that a decision could be made reflective of the costs of restoring the building for that one specific use.
As such, Woodward and the EAC will have the final say on which idea will be presented to council before a final decision of whether or not to demolish the building is made.
“Part of [that decision-making process] would be the number of residents that support any particular use,” said Woodward.
In light of this most recent development, Woodward is once again looking for submissions on alternative uses for the building, and will also likely hold meetings at which residents will be given a list of ideas to choose from. The overall cost of each use — a farmers’ market would be much cheaper than a fully insulated, heated building, for example — will be taken into consideration.