Finances on thin ice at Cape Breton arena
A Cape Breton arena could run out of money by the summer if changes are not made, according to its manager.
Lloyd Wilkie, interim manager of Emera Centre Northside located in North Sydney, N.S., told a public meeting Monday that the building's operating costs are overwhelming.
Wilkie did not provide details on revenues and expenditures, but said the centre is losing roughly $100,000 to $200,000 a year and ice times are not making up the shortfall.
"We basically told the public that we expect to run out of money by the summer, so pretty bad shape actually," Wilkie said in an interview with CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton.
"We have power bills that are around $220,000 for the year and the building is 13 years old now … there's things that need to be replaced."
Not enough volunteers
The Emera Centre houses a NHL-sized rink, walking track, multipurpose rooms and seating for 2,300 people. The facility is owned and operated by a non-profit group known as the Northside Civic Centre Society, which has a volunteer board of directors.
Wilkie said the facility relies on volunteers to keep it running, but there are fewer people stepping up.
All three levels of government have provided funding to the rink in the past, but that money has dried up. Wilkie said the rink has also benefited from a local lottery known as Chase the Ace.
"It seems like every time we get money something else breaks down, so we just can't keep up," Wilkie said.
New ownership sought
The rink's board of directors is now considering new ownership. Preliminary talks have begun with staff at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Earlene MacMullin, who represents North Sydney on CBRM council, said most people in attendance at Monday's meeting would like to see a move to municipal ownership.
"It's understood, the importance of this facility," MacMullin said. "We just can't let it go by."
But MacMullin acknowledged that the CBRM is cash-strapped, too, and finding money to afford a new building will be challenging.
CBRM staff will likely create a report about the feasibility of taking on such a venue. MacMullin said once those details are known, it will be up to the mayor and council to decide what to do next.
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