Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New method urged to tally arenas' fitness

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Winnipeg needs a new way to determine which arenas and hockey rinks are in the worst shape, according to a city councillor who said the current facility-condition data are not accurate.

Winnipeg uses a facility-condition index to estimate how much needs to be fixed in its recreational facilities. A value of zero indicates new, but that number increases as the facility's condition worsens. A value of 1.0 means a facility is at a point where renovating it will cost as much as replacing it.

According to a city report, Vimy Arena was in the worst shape of the 15 city-owned and operated facilities in 2011, with a facility-condition index of .55. Next was Eric Coy Arena at .45 and Charles A. Barbour Arena at .44.

St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes said the problem is a building's condition is calculated by how much repairs will cost compared with the arena's total value. As the arena's property value rises, Mayes said, its condition will seemingly improve since the cost of repairs will be a smaller proportion of its value.

He said Sargent Park Arena's condition improved from .62 to .31 between 2007 and 2011, even though the city did not invest new money in repairs.

Mayes said the city should look at the total cost of repairs per facility to get a more accurate picture of what needs to be fixed.

"It becomes hard to say which is the worst, because that measurement seems to be fluctuating," he said.

On Wednesday, city council unanimously approved a plan that will see the city and province each contribute one-third of the $17-million cost to build a multiplex at Garden City Community Centre on Kingsbury Avenue and one-third toward a $9-million renovation and expansion of East End Arena on Pandora Avenue East.

In both cases, the remaining one-third of the cost will be paid by the community centres, which will operate the facilities.

When those facilities are ready, the city will decommission Roland Michener, Vimy and Old Exhibition arenas.

Mayes and other councillors said now is a good time for the city to examine its plans for other arenas.

Winnipeg has 39 sheets of ice, including 15 in city-owned-and-operated arenas.

Previous city reports have estimated it would cost $51 million to maintain the facilities in their current state and $80 million to improve them. Most of the city's arenas are more than 40 years old and in such rough shape they are nearing a "crisis" state, a 2010 report said.

Mayor Sam Katz said the city has a policy of decommissioning an old arena every time a new one is built. He said another community group has approached the city about improving the Charles A. Barbour Arena, and other groups have approached the department about other facilities.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2013 A7

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