Sundridge tries to increase usage at Sundridge Strong Joly Arena

·2 min read

The Village of Sundridge is setting a challenge for itself – how to get more people and groups to use the Sundridge Strong Joly Arena after COVID-19 lockdowns last year decimated expected revenue and has further impacted revenue into 2021.

The municipal portion for the arena this year totals $258,610 with Strong Township covering half the cost at $129,305.

Sundridge's share is about 40 per cent at $103,444 while Joly accounts for the remaining municipal amount at $25,801.

“For that much money I want to see it used more and get more people into the arena,” said Councillor Steve Hicks.

Hicks acknowledged that the pandemic has had a major impact on arena use but adds “before COVID it wasn't busy."

Hicks suggested using the arena as a smaller version of 250 Clark, the municipally-owned building in Powassan which houses a number of services.

Local court proceedings are held in the arena and the revenue from the courthouse is pegged at $70,000 in the budget.

The courthouse is the largest revenue generator for the facility followed by ice-related rentals.

Hicks said he “doesn't want to turn his nose” up at that kind of money coming into the arena but emphasized the facility is geared toward public use.

In response, Coun. Barbara Belrose said she's been trying to get the local dance studio into the arena as one user group but COVID lockdowns and restrictions have been a stumbling block.

Belrose said years ago the arena had a booster club which looked for groups that could use it and suggested perhaps it's time to resurrect the club so it can work aggressively at bringing people and groups to the arena.

Deputy Mayor Shawn Jackson said with so many events cancelled last year because of COVID-19, “there will be a big demand for the arena once COVID is over.”

Coun. Steve Rawn said among the cancelled events were weddings and the belief is they should be back once COVID is in the past.

Rawn also hopes the Sundridge Gun and Hunting Show could make a return this year after last year's lockdown forced its cancellation.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget