County of Grande Prairie council has determined more discussions are necessary before any decisions are to be made about the future of the Clairmont Arena and Community Hall. According to Reeve Leanne Beaupre, councillors understand there may be frustration in the local community over the continued delay in making a decision.
The Grande Prairie Regional Recreation Committee is also currently evaluating utilization statistics of the facility, as well as the possible development of a regional ice allocation policy to help free up vacant ice in the region and reduce the impact should the arena remain closed.
Beaupre says council is hesitant to make a concrete decision until everyone involved is on the same page about what needs to happen with the facility.
“We want to be certain what their intentions are with the arena, especially if we’re going to make a short-term investment in bringing it back up to code.”
Council has thus far approved a little over $22,000 to date for engineering and environmental studies for the hall and arena. The cost of the needs assessment came back at $26,250, which was paid out of the $50,000 originally allocated to the Clairmont and District Agricultural Society as part of the 2020 Capital Assistance funds.
Further, estimated costs to bring the hall up to modern safety standards fall just shy of $100,000. Addressing the immediate needs of the current building to ensure user demands are met for the next four to five years is roughly $770,000.
However, that budget would still leave functional deficiencies within the facility. A new facility entirely would be budgeted in the realm of $3.7 million over five years.
The Agricultural Society, which owns and operates the facility, indicated to county council on December 3, 2019 the facility was to be closed due to safety concerns. Additionally, the society says it no longer wishes to operate the arena in the future.
A new operating model and potential capital investments will be required if the County or another party wishes to enter into an agreement with the Society to manage the facility. Beaupre says they will need to see extremely favourable numbers and evidence the community would benefit from a new ice facility instead of repairing the old one.
“We know looking at projections from growth in the area and through discussions with the regional rec advisory board that eventually there’s going to be a need for another ice surface but we want to make sure we confirm the timing and such without moving ahead and diluting the ‘ice pool.'”
Council has decided to table financial decisions regarding the Clairmont Community as part of the 2021 Major Capital and Capital Assistance grant deliberations in November.