TRURO - Two Colchester County arenas are facing financial shortfalls totaling nearly $75,000 this year because of ice time lost to the new civic centre.
© HARRY SULLIVAN - TRURO DAILY NEWS
Randy Webb, manager of the West Colchester United Arena in Debert, is projecting a financial deficit this year of $52,600 because of ice rental time lost to the new Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
"The opening of the new arena certainly has affected the Debert arena, there's no doubt about that," Colchester County Coun. Doug MacInnes said during Thursday night's meeting.
"The West Colchester United Arena is facing a $52,000 deficit, approximately, for the first time in 40 years or so," he said.
The Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex in Brookfield is also expecting to lose a minimum of $22,000 this year because of ice time lost to the Rath Eastlink Community Centre (RECC).
The projected losses come despite assurances made by county and Truro officials during the planning stages for the RECC that outside arenas would not be affected by a new rink because the demand for ice time was so high.
Arena managers disputed that information at the time and now, MacInness said, "I guess they are being proven right."
"What they tell me is back in the day, when talks were first held about the rec centre, that they were assured this wouldn't happen," he said.
Coun. Tom Taggart agreed.
"When I supported the civic centre we were clearly told it would not have an affect on the outside rinks," he said.
Randy Webb, manager for the Debert arena, said 12 hours per week of ice time normally booked by Truro minor hockey has been lost to the RECC, plus another three hours per week traditionally booked by other teams. Given the lost rental time, plus related canteen sales, Webb is projecting a financial loss this winter of $52,600.
"I've been here 30 years and I've never had to present a deficit before. We were always able to balance our budget," he said. "We'll have to get it turned around because it can't continue very long at that rate."
Webb said he is looking at cutting rink expenses, although "that is kind of hard to do."
Fundraising activities are another option that will be explored to generate more revenue, he said.
In Brookfield, interim sportsplex manager Al Fielding said he also will be exploring his options, including advertising available ice times and looking at the possibility of starting an over-50 hockey league. But Fielding also said he does not blame anyone for trying to find ice time closer to where they live.
One possibility discussed by council for helping to alleviate the financial shortfalls is for the municipality to purchase any available ice time at the outside arenas.
"I'm not suggesting for a minute that we walk in there and pay the bill, but we have to do something," Taggart said.
Deputy Mayor Bill Masters said that could mean developing "accessibility programs" and purchasing ice time at the rinks that are facing financial difficulties.
"Maybe that's what we got to do," he said.
But Masters said rink managers should also be mindful of the fact that the municipality in recent years has taken on the responsibility of paying the capital expenses and insurance costs at the municipality's three community arenas in Debert, Brookfield and Tatamagouche.
In Debert, that shifting of financial responsibility has resulted in annual average savings of about $50,000 per year.
Masters also suggested that the affected rinks may have to look at more ways to generate revenue through the summer months.
And Mayor Bob Taylor said the situation could be partially resolved once more people realize that ice time is available.
"I think it will be short term because a lot of people gave up on ice time because they could never get it," he said.
Ice rentals at neither the North Shore Recreation Centre in Tatamagouche nor Deuville's Rink in Salmon River have been adversely affected by the RECC.