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Funding for refrigerated rink pulled

Coun. Sheena Hughes "disappointed" by move to kill approximate $1.7-million refrigerated rink; admin says public sentiment against proposal
St. Albert Place
STOCK-St. Albert Place in St. Albert November 1, 2017.

A plan to add a few weeks onto either end of the skating season in St. Albert could be dead in the water, after city council decided last week to pull funding from a refrigerated ice rink.

During its Feb. 18 meeting, council voted 6-1 to defund an estimated $1.2-million refrigerated rink project, after city staff said residents adjacent to the proposed Larose Park location were opposed.

Coun. Sheena Hughes, who spearheaded the idea as a way to increase ice availability in the city, said she was “disappointed” and felt the idea had not been properly explored.

“I do know if it was built, it would be very well received and appreciated by so many in the community,” she said. “If we just do this, it’s dead.”

City staff said they heard from a total of 32 residents surrounding Larose Park – where an existing rink would have been upgraded with refrigerated ice and a dome roof – and feedback was consistently unfavourable.

Community recreation manager Daniele Podlubny said research on similar rinks in other communities revealed the rink’s true price tag could range from a low $1.2 million up to $3.5 million.

Mayor Cathy Heron said when Hughes’ motion for the rink passed during 2019 budget deliberations, her understanding was it could be a potential solution for hockey, figure skating and ringette users in need of more ice time. Those user groups have since indicated it would not be an “ideal solution,” staff have said.

While council rescinded two motions approving funding for the project from capital reserves, they spoke about the potential to include a refrigerated rink in future park projects.

“Certainly, we should go back and look at starting to design this in a way that we can actually accomplish what we were trying to meet,” Coun. Ken MacKay said.

Hannah Lawson

About the Author: Hannah Lawson

Hannah Lawson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2019 after working as editor of the Athabasca Advocate. She writes about city hall.
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