REGINA: The chair of the city’s parks and recreation of advisory board is recommending the city not close any of its indoor neighbourhood ice arenas – a decision greeted as “welcome news” by civic workers who have campaigned to keep the rinks open.
Last year, a Vancouver-based consultant hired by the city recommended closing four of the city’s eight indoor ice arenas.
The recommendation angered many residents, who already were spending hours driving to rinks out of town because there was no ice time available in the city. A recent public opinion poll, conducted by Viewpoints Research for CUPE 21, found 60 per cent of those surveyed opposed the rink closures, including 39 per cent who strongly opposed them.
Both CUPE 21, which represents about 1,100 outside city workers, and Hockey Regina have been urging the city to reject the consultant’s recommendation and make upgrades to the city’s aging indoor ice arenas.
Now the chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is making a similar recommendation. In his report, which will be considered later today at an advisory board meeting, Mark Burton says the consultant’s framework was “badly flawed” and “totally ignored issues.”
Stating the ice arenas did not receive fair treatment in the report, Burton asks what other sport in the city requires participants to travel “80+ kilometres for practice” or requires that five year-old children get up at 6 a.m. for 7 a.m. games, seven times a season?”
Burton recommends the city not close any of the neighbourhood rinks. He also says the city should encourage and support new arena facilities at the University of Regina.
Tim Anderson, CUPE 21 President, says he hopes the parks and recreation committee also supports the continued operation of the Pasqua Neighbourhood Centre, Dewdney and Maple Leaf outdoor swimming pools and the Regent Park Par 3 Golf Course – all facilities on the consultant’s list of closures.
According to the Viewpoints poll, the maintenance of city services has strong support among Regina residents. The poll found 55 per cent of Regina property owners would support a modest property tax increase to improve city services, compared to just 28 per cent who would opt for lower property taxes that would result in service cuts such as the closure of some outdoor pools.
The survey of 601 Regina residents was conducted by Viewpoints Research between February 24 and March 1. The margin of error is +/– 4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
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For more information contact: Tim Anderson at 352-8282