Mayor Kim Love announced at the MV Council in Committee meeting on Dec.1 that Council intends to make a decision during its Dec.16 meeting about spending $1.5 million on rehabilitating the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre (PJYCC). The bulk of this money will be used to replace the ice slab. MV Treasurer estimates that servicing the necessary loan to finance the project will result in a 2.5 percent increase in the municipality’s tax rate. Given that the arena habitually operates at a loss, that means that the money being borrowed will likely result in its running at an even greater deficit.
Sadly, Mayor Love’s comment during the Dec.1 meeting, “Because otherwise we’ll be the council that’s left holding the bag when the ice goes out. I don’t want to be in that position,” suggests that Council seems more preoccupied with its own image rather than the long term goal of addressing the recreational needs for the greatest number of residents. Many have suggested, for example, that alterations be made so as to house a fitness centre.
The municipality has been without a strategic plan since 2018. Such a plan should be a template for joined-up thinking about community needs generally, whilst looking to the future and recognizing local demographic trends that seem to militate against disproportionate spending on a hockey arena. The sum of $8,900 was budgeted for a consultant to produce a new strategic plan. However, almost a year later it is conspicuous by its absence.
The Current published an editorial about the arena on Sept.19. Click HERE to read. It prompted reader Doug De La Matter to post the following comment: “I hope the Council will use the opportunity to survey ALL of our public facilities and invest in those that can make our community attractive to the widest possible range of people’s ages and interests.”
Council directed staff to bring the matter back to their next meeting on Wednesday, Dec.16. As the discussion concluded, Mayor Love said, “As I said I think the matter is urgent but bringing it to the next council meeting gives the public a chance to digest the reports in this Agenda, to consider the discussion that Council has had today, and I’m sure that, if there is public input it will be coming back to us hopefully in time for that meeting. And should there be public input, I think Council needs to be aware of that. It is a factor in this decision certainly.”