The Dryden Observer

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EDITORIAL: It’s a shame it’s come to this

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

I have to admit, I went into city council Monday night feeling a certain way about the debacle currently unfolding at Dryden Memorial Arena, but I left council that evening feeling fairly sympathetic to the Dryden Minor Softball group.

It certainly wasn’t anything they said. Without a delegation on the evening’s agenda, there was little they could do on their own behalf, except listen as the discussion swirled around them in the tone of:

“It’s a shame it’s come to this.”

To the uninitiated outsider the whole thing seems ridiculous, childish even. Why is a minor sports organization, especially one who has built an $800,000 facility in recent years, clinging so obstinately to a smelly (reportedly) storage room on the second floor of the Dryden Memorial Arena?

It’s the principal of the thing.

And yes, that does matter.

What were they doing up there in the first place? The club, like other user groups, was granted the space in recognition for its fundraising efforts for the arena renovation many years ago. There’s a history there that matters, at least to Dryden Minor Softball and perhaps less so to the group who decided to take Softball’s sign off the door, replacing it with their own.

I could get behind the idea of using the space as a medical room to serve all user groups — if the darn thing wasn’t up two flights of stairs. Its primary use will most certainly be with the junior hockey club, which the club itself stated as their original intention in the letter to the right.

So why fight this?

User groups should be ultra-vigilant when it comes to the city’s dealings with facilities. The city’s track record of honouring relationships with user groups leaves much to be desired.

Built by fundraised dollars, gifted to city, then sold into private hands, the Dryden Curling Club now stores boats all winter while Dryden’s curlers drive to Sioux Lookout.

Dryden’s tennis players do the best they can to keep the fading embers of their sport alive after the North Dryden tennis court was dismantled (rather needlessly, in my opinion).

Of course, there’s a lot more complexity to these chestnuts than I’m offering at the moment, but if history has taught us anything it is that in this ever-changing town you should fight for every foothold you have if you believe you have something worth saving.

Year after year you see continual improvements and entrenchments at the Dryden Fairgrounds in hopes that the real estate under their feet isn’t desired for something else.

It’s the same fear that led the members of the Dryden Rifle and Pistol Club to pool their funds to buy the adjacent Barclay Hall when it was deemed surplus — to avoid the eventuality that a new residential neighbour would force them to relocate.

Whether or not Dryden Minor Softball was making the best use of the space afforded to them at the Dryden Memorial Arena is one way to view the question. Another way to look at it is how does taking that space away from them honour their stake and contribution to public recreation in Dryden, if that’s what this room has come to symbolize?

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