City looks to plan for more ice surfaces

  • Aug. 17, 2016 2:31 p.m.

Red Deer City council approved the Ice Facilities Plan at this week’s council meeting which will guide the development of future ice services.

This past winter, the City of Red Deer conducted a review of indoor and outdoor ice facilities. Using a number of research efforts, including research on provincial and national sport and leisure trends, leading practices, bench-marking with other municipalities, utilization analysis, review of current practices and engagement with the public and ice user groups, an Ice Facilities Plan was developed which was presented to council on Monday.

“The Ice Facilities Plan was about developing a long-term strategic framework to ensure ice facility priorities for our community were identified and planned,” said Shelley Gagnon, the City’s Recreation, Parks and Culture manager. “We needed to understand the current and long-term needs as our community grows and changes so that we have a sustainable plan for both ice rinks and programming now and in the future.”

In person surveys were conducted with individual skaters and ice user groups to understand current and future needs related to spontaneous access to public skating and recreational programming. An online survey was also posted on the City’s web site earlier this year.

The study assessed current indoor and outdoor ice rink use, considered the state of existing infrastructure, and using both the research and the consultation feedback the Ice Facilities Plan provides recommendations for when and where the City should focus future facility development and service delivery.

“We now have validated baseline principles that will allow us to develop facilities that balance long-term resident and visitor interest, enhance quality of life for citizens and create economic benefit for Red Deer,” said Gagnon.

Council heard there are a total of six indoor rinks, 36 outdoor boarded rinks, 35 snowbank rinks, three pond areas and one oval in the City. For the boarded and snowbank rink sites, 12 sites are located north of the river and 29 are south. Twenty sites are serviced daily while 21 receive maintenance on a weekly basis. Council heard there is about one sheet of ice for about 17,000 people given the City’s population.

The report recommended there be an assessment of the Kinex Arena as it is one of the City’s oldest facilities. The report also suggests in 2021 there should be an addition of a new ice surface to the City’s inventory as well as an additional ice surface in 2026.

Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said she is appreciative of the report.

“This is a great planning tool for our City.”

Councillor Ken Johnston agreed.

“One of the things the report outlines is that we may have to look at making further investments in our facilities in the short term and the medium term. It is about quality of life for our citizens. I really, really endorse (the report).”

Council voted in favour of accepting the report as a planning tool. Councillor Buck Buchanan voted against the motion.

Councillors Lynne Mulder, Lawrence Lee and Tanya Handley were absent from Monday’s meeting.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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