Latest posts by Chris Marchand (see all)
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By Chris Marchand
After the issue was left languishing in holiday limbo, councilors re-affirmed their commitment to address the concerns of user groups at Dryden Memorial Arena over the next few weeks.
A council sub-committee, consisting of Martin MacKinnon, Mary Trist and Norm Bush will meet with user groups and report back to council on the issues they raise.
Councilor Ken Moss made a notice of motion at the Jan. 12 Committee of the Whole meeting to re-introduce the operational matter at the heart of these raised tensions — that of Dryden Minor Ball being told by the city to vacate their storage space at the arena in exchange for one at the City’s Parks office in the interest of creating a first aid room on the arena’s upper level, adjacent to the Dryden GM Ice Dogs’ area. A request that led to a perception of favoritism for some user groups over others.
Councilor Roger Valley wondered whether the issue would be better resolved by the arena manager and that further council meddling in operational issues would only impede its timely resolution.
Councilor Martin MacKinnon said that the amount of community feedback he’s personally received on the matter clearly indicates that the first-aid room issue is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to the city’s strained relationship with its recreational user groups. He says the issue has become a political football that needs attention.
“Council’s been dragged into it because of probably 12 years of neglect,” said MacKinnon. “They’ve (user groups) had concerns and they’ve been ignored. Lots of them will take you back to the time of the old DARC recreation commission — they could come in there and have their say and they did, frequently. They don’t have that say anymore. They can talk to our employees but our employees are hindered by finances and they can’t make any promises.”
Councilor Mary Trist suggested revisiting the DARC model — its various pros and cons as part of the ongoing discussion.
MacKinnon says it is not the subcommittee’s intention to interfere with operational personnel, but to support the staff and help repair the rift he feels has grown in recent years with user groups.
“We’re into a whole lot more here than just a medical room. We’re into cleanliness and maintenance issues, showers that don’t work, to girls hockey not even having a proper change room with benches to sit on. All that stuff has never been resolved and those people are fed up.”
The committee is expected to report back to council on their meeting with user groups at the Feb. 9 meeting.