Mayor pours cold water on rink proposal as petition hits mark

The goal was to secure 500 signatures to convince the Mayor and council to prioritize the construction of a new arena in Queen’s Park. I’m pleased to say that earlier today that number was surpassed! There are now 505 people who have indicated support for the construction of a new arena. The petition is still online and will continue to gather signatures over the coming weeks. A meeting is now being planned with the Mayor to discuss this initiative – I’ll keep you posted on how that turns out!

Mayor Cote pours cold water over expediting arena proposal

Meanwhile, as the number of supporters for this initiative continues to grow, the Mayor and his DL Caucus (they control all 7 seats on council) have poured cold water on the proposal.

In today’s Record newspaper, Mayor Cote tells reporter Theresa McManus that we better not hold our breath for a new arena in this city anytime soon – cuz His Worship simply has other priorities.

Cote says City Hall has made up its mind and a replacement for the Canada Games Pool is now in the works and a new arena is only considered part of the city’s “long-term planning”.

“That’s our top priority. We recognize it [new pool] will probably be one of the biggest recreational projects the city has seen in probably many decades. We have done a lot of planning for that in our financial planning over the last number of years and we are ready to take that to the next step.”

For the record, a new Canada Games Pool is not “probably” one of the biggest recreational projects the city has seen in decades…it is. The last major investment in a sports and recreation facility was way back in 1972 when Canada Games Pool was constructed. Since then, the city has made no major investments in arenas, stadiums or similar sports facilities. It did make a decision to build a new office tower – which to this day sits virtually empty.

Steve Kellock, the city’s senior manager of recreation services and facilities, said “as all of the priorities were reviewed and then quantified. Going through that process this [arena] was put as a lower priority.”

“We can probably assume this will find its way in front of council,” Kellock tells the Record in reference to the online petition. “Staff will look to council to set timelines on how they want to move forward and pursue this. They set the priorities around the projects. The Canada Games project is a current council priority.”

A new arena would expand capacity for figure skating programs in New Westminster

An indoor pool may be a worthy council priority, but so too should the kids who play lacrosse and minor hockey in this city. Horrible practice times…limited public ice skating…smaller tournaments…all a direct result of having only two rinks to service the needs of over 70,000 people – and a population that is forecast to grow exponentially over the coming decades.

What about the young kids who would love to power up a figure skating program? How about the local businesses who would like to see the economic benefits that would result from increased sports tourism? Should their voice not be heard?

Keep the signatures coming! I plan to keep up the pressure over the coming weeks and who knows…maybe we’ll get over 1000 signatures by the time I secure a meeting with the Mayor! Thanks again to all of you for logging in…and signing the petition. Your voice will be heard…we will “make it happen”!