News Local

Shear Park site of new artificial ice rink

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

There could be Shear delight for shinny players and skaters this winter.

City council decided Monday that Shear Park -- located at the corner of Innisfil and Holgate streets, just off Essa Road -- will be the site of an artificial, outdoor ice rink if Barrie gets federal funding.

Council had considered two other sites, at Queens Park or in Ward 9 or 10.

"What you have here is a middle ground, for people right across the city," said Coun. Alex Nuttall, who had previously pushed for a south-Barrie site.

"I think Shear Park is a reasonable compromise," said Coun. Jeff Lehman, who had supported the Queens Park site, in part to replace demolished nearby Barrie (Dunlop) Arena.

"But you're not going to find an ideal location," Lehman said.

The project still needs to qualify for the Recreation Infrastructure Canada Fund (RinC). Funding would be on a one-third basis involving the city, Ottawa and the province. Capital costs for the rink could be more than $2 million -- including a change room, washrooms, ice resurfacer and an equipment building. The Zamboni alone costs about $100,000.

Operating costs are estimated at $100,000 annually.

Only Mayor Dave Aspden and couns. Mike Ramsay and John Brassard did not support the motion.

Brassard, who coaches minor hockey, has said from the beginning that he doesn't support the cost -- capital and operating.

"Despite the federal funding, I don't think this is something the city can afford," he said, noting that even an artificial outdoor rink can only be used 10-14 weeks during a Barrie winter.

Ramsay said that Allandale Recreation Centre, with two ice rinks, is only about three blocks away from Shear Park.

Aspden said there are 26 outdoor rinks in Barrie, some maintained by city staff, but most looked after by neighbourhood residents.

Shear Park does have a natural ice rink each winter and it's busy enough to be cleared and flooded each weekday by city staff. The rink is on Shear's existing tennis courts and extends out onto the grass between the courts and the softball diamond.

The park also has a playground area for children, a wooded area with trails, a parking lot and parking spaces along Holgate Street.

The artificial outdoor rink would be built between the tennis courts, which have lights, and the ball park.

If the city gets federal funding for the rink, the plan is for it to be operational for the 2010 hockey and skating seasons.

Canada's Economic Action Plan is providing $500 million during two years to RinC program to support upgrading and renewal of recreational facilities in communities.

The federal allocation for Ontario for this construction season is $68 million. Funding during the next two years will be allocated based on applications submitted from Ontario communities. Projects will be selected on the basis of merit and construction readiness.

The Canadian government can fund up to one third of a project's total eligible cost, to a maximum of $1 million per project.

Ontario has committed funding as part of its provincial budget to match that allocated as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan.

Barrie's share would be about $693,300.

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