Millcreek Philly

Arches may be moving out and heaters warming up Falher Memorial Arena

All things seem to come in threes.
One councillor openly condemned the future of the town’s ice arena.
Another councillor adamantly supported further funding for heating.
And council as a whole received the first of a dozen reports on the movement of the arch supports, which could one day show the need to condemn the building.
Falher town council had ordered public works to measure the arches supporting the bowl area above the ice surface and the first results were reported at the Dec. 3 regular council meeting.
One of the 22 arches was out as much as 4 mm, which public works speculates may be due to frost.
“There’s very minimal change,” said director of public works Ernie Marchildon, adding that the Oct. 1 and Nov. 29 readings provide a baseline for future measurements.
“Now we have something to compare to,” he said. “If the numbers jump up significantly, then we know we have a problem.”
“Do we have a problem with our arena? We will find out,” said Mayor Margaret Tardif.
She said she personally doesn’t believe there is a problem but indicated that the previous council decided to order a 12-month study to find out for sure in the wake of reports by engineers on the movement of the ice surface headers.
One of the main reasons the fan boxes above the stands were closed before this season was to take weight off the support structure, the mayor said days after the meeting.
Snow on the roof and water on the floor might contribute to the situat- ion, she added.
“It’s an old building that is finished,” said Councillor Philippe Dubé.
No more money should be put into it, he said.
Coun. Dube said the arena runs a deficit of over $50,000 and he balked at the idea of paying for heaters.
Councillor Victor Fournier said the arena is well used and noted that in some arenas it’s warm enough to take jackets off.
“We’re the only unheated arena I’ve ever known,” said Councillor Gerald Caron, who suggested the idea of town funding for heaters, perhaps in conjunction with minor hockey.
He also introduced the idea of removing the boarded-up fan boxes to make room for heaters and take more weight off the arches.
“That may buy us a few years,” the councillor said of the lifespan of the arena.
The ad signs on the boxes he said might be effectively hung instead.
Coun. Caron plans on attending the next minor hockey meeting to gather facts to bring to council.
Council will review whether to fund heaters when the 2002 budget is set in the coming weeks.
Public works explained days later that there are a couple of old heaters in the arena and that minor hockey is paying the utility bills.
The energy costs may be substantial, said Lise Cote, president of the Smoky River Minor Hockey Association in an Express interview.
“We are working together with the town of Falher in general,” she said of their longterm efforts to avoid having the building shutdown.
“We’re thinking of a whole new arch system,” she said, which includes the ice surface and viewing area.
The alternative of possibly having to close down the arena in three to five years leaves her cold.
“Three arenas in the area benefit everybody,” she spoke of the rink in Donnelly and McLennan.
“If all the activity is squeezed into two arenas, then some will lose out.”
Seven minor hockey teams and two adult teams presently use the facility as well as schools and special events.
The president’s next step is to approach the Falher Recreation Development Society to put individuals with vision for a new arena on their committee.
A subcommittee for ideas and fundraising will be formed in January. Already a dozen people have stepped forward.
“Why wait any length of time for fundraising?” she said.
Grant applications are being sought out with the aid of recreation society secretary Dan Dibbelt.
Lise Cote encourages anyone interested in sitting on a subcommittee to call her at 837-3212.
A public meeting will be planned in the new year to gauge public support.
“We hope the community wants this,” she said.