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Rink project could see provincial dollars


The town may be able to access provincial funding for a second indoor ice surface here. The catch is it has to be a new double-rink facility.

Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said the Northern Heritage Fund Corp. announced last week it would include double-rink ice surfaces for those communities looking to access the funding.

"There could be up to 50 percent funding for a rink," Mayor Witherspoon noted yesterday. "That’ll be one of the avenues we have."

Despite that news, council voted unanimously last Thursday to terminate its contract with Windfield Construction Ltd. of Winnipeg for a $5.5-million, 87,000 sq. ft. "L"-shaped arena, featuring a North American-sized ice surface and an Olympic-sized one.

"We didn’t go with Windfield because they couldn’t come up with the bond," Mayor Witherspoon said, with council also unanimously defeating a resolution last Thursday to opt for construction management with Windfield.

"We weren’t prepared to go into the construction management and take that chance because of what’s happening with the other project in town," the mayor added.

"We just weren’t going to get into that bag."

While he admitted council might be opening itself up to a lawsuit by terminating the contract, Mayor Witherspoon stressed Windfield had not fulfilled its part of the contract by putting up a performance bond to cover the $4.91-million tender for the project.

Upon the request of Windfield last week, they were not contacted for further comment.

Meanwhile, the town is looking to meet with "Ice for Kids" reps as early as next week to get the rink project back on track. And this time round, the entire council will be included in the decisions, with direction coming from council.

"We were trying to facilitate something that would be fast-tracked and that we would be proud of. [But] we left it in the committee stage too long and too many things were not brought out," Mayor Witherspoon admitted.

And he stressed it would "definitely" go back to the public for input.

That’s something "Ice For Kids" co-chair Dave Egan agreed should happen. He felt all the user groups should be consulted as to what they wanted.

Even though he sat on the arena committee, Egan said he himself was shocked at the end result.

"I was totally surprised when it came back an ‘L-shape’ with a 300 capacity multi-purpose room," he noted yesterday.

"Ice For Kids" vision statement called for "a no-frills-approach natural ice surface arena, with a playing surface of 85’x220’ (North American)."

That arena would have capacity to add bleachers to one side, the statement continued.

But Egan noted there was community support for the double-rink given "Ice For Kids" raised more than $500,000 in three weeks last year based on the Dakota model presented last February.

While there was some disagreement among committee members sitting on the arena committee (co-chair Les Baker and Al Smith supported the Olympic-sized rink while Egan and Tammy DeAmicis opposed it), Egan hoped to have an "Ice for Kids" meeting this week to come up with how the committee will proceed.

"It has to go back to the entire group," he stressed.

While he was disappointed with the decision last week not to proceed, Baker said he understood the choice council made.

"The biggest worry is the delay," he said Thursday. "But talking to the elected officials tonight, there seems to be an urgency that they want to see things back on track again.

"We can’t help the delays, I guess," agreed Egan. "As long as we know we’re going to get the ideal structure, I think people can tolerate [them]."

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