Callanderites leaning toward full upgrades to Bill Barber rink

The Municipality of Callander released the results of a recent survey which sought to discover what direction residents wanted to steer upgrades to the Bill Barber Arena. It turns out that more than half of the respondents want to see a full upgrade to the rink, which could cost between $550,000 and $600,000 at last estimate.

See: Callander’s rink improvements on ice?

On January 23rd, an open house meeting was held at Callander’s Community Centre to present three options for upgrading the rink. Those options were laid out to residents and included estimated prices as well.

After the meeting, a survey was posted to the municipal website, to gather more input from residents, and 120 people heeded the call. Of those, 88 per cent called Callander home, and after tabulating all responses, 66 per cent chose to fully upgrade the facility, 20 per cent went for the partial upgrade, and 15 per cent chose the replacement option.

This last option would see the asphalt ice pad replaced at a cost of about $100,000. The partial upgrade option would see a concrete pad installed, which would last between 10 and 15 years, and cost the municipality $300,000.

The most popular option—the complete overhaul—involves the installation of a new concrete ice pad, thicker than option two, and estimated to last 50 years. This plan would also see a path laid to the Orton Room in the Community Centre, and the concrete pad would allow more summertime activities as well.

The survey asked people why those chose what they did, and overwhelmingly, the answer was they wanted to “do it right the first time,” as it would be “cheaper in the long term” to invest heavily in the present.

See: Bill Barber Complex receives funding for upgrades

People also noted the improvements could draw more people to town, and would benefit the entire community. However, about 10 per cent of respondents didn’t feel that any upgrades were necessary, and many noted they were unwilling to pay for improvements by increasing taxes.

The vote was split evenly on that, with 50 per cent willing to accept a tax increase to cover costs, and another 50 per cent unwilling.

So, what does a survey of 100 residents add up to? Nothing is finalized yet, and the issue will be discussed by council in the upcoming weeks. However, “we wanted to see what people wanted to do,” with the facility, explained Mayor Robb Noon, “because it’s a lot of money” any way you slice it.

“The next step is to take that information and wrap it into a plan,” Noon added, taking into account the options “before it is brought to council.” Specifically, “we need to update all of the pricing, and consider all that will be involved with the upkeep and maintenance of any renovation” before a decision is made regarding the future of the Bill Barber rink.

The feedback from the survey certainly helps, Noon noted. “It lets us know what the residents are thinking, and you want to get their input to see what the residents want” within the town.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,