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Joined: 02 Mar 2009
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Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:59 am    Post subject: energy costs could force arenas and curling clubs to close Reply with quote

( its not just residential consumers and industry suffering from high hydro bills in Ontario , its arena's and curling clubs are facing much larger bills than in past years with many struggling to pay them )

January 30, 2017 7:45 pm Updated: January 31, 2017 8:13 am

Rising energy costs could force Ontario arenas and curling clubs to close

By Brian Hill Global News

WATCH: With Hydro costs rising in rural Ontario, some curling clubs and ice rinks are facing possible closure. As Sean O'Shea reports, hydro costs now account for as much as half of the membership fees in some cases.

Two of Canada’s most popular sports, curling and skating, are being threatened by rising electricity costs in Ontario, as some local arenas and curling rinks struggle to keep their doors open in the face of rising hydro bills.

Stephen Chenier, executive director of the Ontario Curling Association, says if clubs can’t get a handle on increasing bills soon, many could be forced to close their doors for good.

“We have 197 members currently and I would hazard a guess that easily between 10 and 20 per cent of our clubs are at that threshold point in the next couple of years,” Chenier said. “It used to cost between $15,000 and $18,000 a year for energy costs to operate your facility, now you’re anywhere between $30,000 and $45,000.”

Chenier says increasing costs have placed local curling clubs in the difficult position of having to choose between increasing membership fees, which reduces the number of curlers, or cancel important renovation projects that could reduce energy costs.

“Unfortunately, if we don’t find some way to get capital funds into changing the upgrades and allowing people to invest in their clubs to do it, I’m afraid we’re going to start losing curling clubs.”

For many curling associations, such as the Huntsville Curling Club from Huntsville, Ont. the impact of skyrocketing energy bills has left them feeling helpless.

“Hydro costs are definitely rising. At our club one third of an individual’s membership fee goes to energy costs,” said Eric Spinks, a curler and former board member of the Huntsville Curling Club. “What that does is it really handcuffs us with our capital funding, with our capital funds, and it makes it more difficult for us to operate.”

Spinks says the club is definitely losing members as costs go up and as people find cheaper things do. He fears that if this trend continues, particularly in rural parts of the province, recreational curling could a thing of the past.

“As we see our membership drop, we certainly don’t want to see our sport disappear,” Spinks said. “We came close to that one time. We were fortunate to apply for a grant and to get a grant to help us continue operating.”

Meanwhile, Ian Hartford, vice president of the Northumberland Curling Club from Cobourg, Ont., says changes to the way the club receives funding from the local municipality have put his club within five years of shutting down.

While the club used to pay a flat fee to the municipality for renting their facility, which included the cost of hydro, they’re now responsible for covering all utility costs – the impact of which Hartford says the club did not fully anticipate.

“This year our predicted cost for electrical use is going to be about $75,000,” Hartford said. “For a 350 membership club, that’s about $250 per member – which is almost half of our cost for membership going to our electrical costs.”

Energy costs could close local arenas

Steve McFadden, Mayor of the Township of Cavan-Monaghan, says rising energy costs in his community have pushed residents and local businesses to the brink. He feels that if the government doesn’t do something soon to reduce the burden on small towns and rural communities, local arenas around Ontario could soon be shuttered once and for all.

“It’s beyond unaffordable,” said McFadden, describing the cost of operating the Millbrook community arena. “There’s only so much money to go around at the end of the day. When people are struggling to meet their needs for food and electricity … they’re not gonna have money for the additional things such as the curling rink or an ice rink.”

McFadden says that over the past few months, electricity bills for the Millbrook arena alone have reached as high as $12,000. He questions the decision making that led to such dramatic increases in costs and is asking the government to do more to assist rural communities.

“It’s about quality of life,” McFadden said. “What kind of a society we have. We have to choose between electricity and food, or electricity and medicine or being able to afford your own home. I mean, that’s called quality of life that we become used to.”

McFadden and a delegation of mayors from across Ontario met with Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault Monday in Toronto to discuss rising energy costs at the annual meeting of the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association.

Thibeault was unavailable for comment immediately following the meeting.

Toronto Centre

Joined: 12 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is most unfortunate for everyone involved.

And what the article doesnt hit on is the double whammy that arenas get hit with.

Most arenas, especially those up north, have a double hit on electricity. They have to heat the ground underneath the ice and chill the ice above it. (otherwise the frost will go way down and heave the joints.)

Joined: 02 Mar 2009
Posts: 8412
Reputation: 282.2
votes: 3
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Toronto Centre wrote:
This is most unfortunate for everyone involved.

And what the article doesnt hit on is the double whammy that arenas get hit with.

Most arenas, especially those up north, have a double hit on electricity. They have to heat the ground underneath the ice and chill the ice above it. (otherwise the frost will go way down and heave the joints.)

a lot of these arena's and clubs are also owned by towns and cities so this means a lot of extra tax dollars are being spent on hydro that could of otherwise been spent elsewhere such as roads our community programs

the ones owned by the towns and cities are unlikely to close but it will cost a lot more to operate them as towns and cities simply deal with the loses

Joined: 02 Mar 2009
Posts: 8412
Reputation: 282.2
votes: 3
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( news on an arena in small town Ontario faced with tough decisions about its future , hydro bills are now $50,000 a year and its running at a $200,000 a year loss )

Jan 29, 2017 | Vote 0 0

Bala Arena could lose ice and be repurposed through budget: mayor

Ice at the Bala Arena may be a thing of the past should Muskoka Lakes township proceed with its current budget forecast.

Gravenhurst Banner
By Brent Cooper

BALA — The future of the Bala Arena is in doubt after preliminary budget discussions at Muskoka Lakes Township indicate a “repurposing” of the facility.

Mayor Don Furniss said the municipality is considering repurposing the arena, but added the matter is only under discussion at this stage.

“Currently the ice is used or rented for 200 hours per year. Six or eight years ago it was over 600 hours. The (Port Carling) arena has seen hours drop from the 1,200 hours per year to around 700. Why? Less children and a major change in minor hockey schedules are the main reasons. In spite of having the cheapest hourly rentals in Muskoka, usage is declining … also our older population is not really into skating.”

Furniss said the arena currently costs taxpayers about $200,000 more than it brings in and it is going to need major new equipment in the near future. He added the electricity bill is coming in at around $50,000 annually.

“Repurposing means the ice will not be put in, but the building could be used for a walking track, winter exercise, roller skating, basketball, indoor soccer, football, lacrosse, badminton, volleyball, ball hockey … it could also allow for craft fairs in winter or lots of other activities,” he said.

One local businessman is not happy with the possibility of losing the Bala Arena as a winter skating facility.

Randy Brown of Cottage Cravings said he and others attended a special council meeting on Jan. 26, held to receive public input regarding the draft budget, including the possible changes to the Bala Arena. He said his heart tells him that closing the Bala Arena would be a bad thing for the community in general.

“It will affect year-round businesses in Bala who benefit from the increased winter traffic. I feel that arenas have been the cornerstones in many Canadian communities. I think that sometimes, even if operating at a loss, some services should still be provided by our local governments and this would be one,” he said.

He said he has posted news on his business Facebook page and other Bala-related pages since the meeting, and to date, he estimates he has received more than 2,400 responses in favour of keeping the arena as a skating facility.

“I know that the TML (Muskoka Lakes Township) has to make very tough decisions. A chart was presented at the public meeting and the constant decline of usership of the Bala Arena over the past 10 years is significant,” he said.

Brown added the arena will close if there's apathy, but stated he didn’t have a gauge on the majority of people in Bala, let alone Muskoka Lakes.

"I'm still very concerned over the 10-year projected tax levies especially when staff is recommended closing one arena and (possibly) two community centres for savings this year. It will be another community that will likely be affected next year and the year following. Maybe it will be a library next. But, the adage is 'use it or lose it' and usages are down so losses will go up. I stated earlier, on a mathematical basis, the town staff has crunched the numbers. Their choices make mathematical sense.”

He said while he is saddened by the potential loss of the arena in exchange for “Bala's large indoor concrete pad,” he is resigned to the loss.

“Maybe the town, who'll save over $3,000,000 over 10 years with the closing of the arena can support other sport activities in the community,” he said.

Furniss said if council were to approve a new co-ordinator of community centres and arenas that person would have some great ideas and the potential to organize some leagues and events “that provide substantially better use of the facility and more benefits to the people and businesses of Bala in the years ahead.”

Brown said he was not sure what “repurposing" the Bala Arena means, adding he was concerned what impact any change to the arena’s operations could mean to events such as the Cranberry Festival and the annual Trek to Bethlehem.

“Maybe it will be available for those? I don't know the costs of the arena sitting idle either,” he said.

One township councillor said she is hopeful the residents can make enough of an impression on council to find ways to keep ice in the arena.

“I commend Mr. Brown of Cottage Cravings and other businesses in Bala that stick it out and choose to stay open year round offering year-round employment,” said Coun. Ruth Nishikawa. “It is fantastic that Bala is not closed down after Labour Day. I sincerely hope that council recognizes these efforts and chooses to keep Bala arena open and perhaps suggest another alternative for our other arena.”


Joined: 02 Mar 2009
Posts: 8412
Reputation: 282.2
votes: 3
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( not an Ontario rink but a story out of Alberta about a rink closing there and how its too expensive to operate )

Arena, Heald Pool will close

By Collin Gallant on December 6, 2016.

Kris MacPhail watches the action during shinny hockey over the lunch-hour at The Arena on Monday. City budget planners are recommending closing The Arena permanently this spring to save $700,000 per year. --NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT



The Medicine Hat Arena is too big and too costly to operate as a community rink, according to city administrators, and Heald Pool in Riverside is too old and too small to justify keeping it open.

Both will be closed next spring, council decided unanimously Monday night after being presented with cost-cutting recommendations.

“Those places hold memories and it’s a very emotional decision,” said public services chair Coun. Julie Friesen, adding Heald Pool has faced closure for a decade. “Our job as councillors is to look down the road and make decisions in the best possible way for a sustainable future … We just simply can’t afford it.”

Shuttering the Arena this spring could save the $700,000 per year it costs to operate the 46-year-old, 4,006-seat community rink. The building that no longer hosts WHL games also requires $2.5 million in repairs by 2025.

Heald Pool requires $80,000 on an ongoing operational basis and would need $250,000 in repairs by 2018.

The moves get budgeters three-quarters of the way to a two-year goal of cutting $1 million out of the annual budget — a necessity, they say, in an era of extremely low energy division profits.

The item arrived at council via administrative committee minutes, which are not public, and on just several days notice. It will now be worked into the 2017 budget year, due in January, along with a study of how to best cut transit costs.

All councillors spoke on the closures, expressing regret, but voting in favour.

“I think a lot of us struggled with this,” said Mayor Ted Clugston.

The Arena will close after this hockey season while the outdoor pool simply won’t open while planners decide whether to sell or demolish to repurpose the sites.

Riverside residents said they felt blindsided.

“We’re losing the school, we’re losing the pool, we’re losing trails — what’s there left for a kid to do in Riverside?” lamented Kim Rausch, a member of the Riverside School parent council, several members of which attended Monday’s meeting.

Riverside School — which provides half the attendance at the nearby pool — is set to close when the new public school in Ranchlands opens.

Clugston said the site is still city owned and could see less expensive parks development, such as a spray deck, considered in the future.

Administrators and councillors pointed to a widely circulated survey about possible service level reductions to rebalance the budget.

Finance commissioner Brian Mastel said cuts are being made in all city departments to meet the target, but as the largest city division, public services would see the most dramatic measures.

“Pools and ice rinks are very expensive to operate and are highly subsidized,” said division commissioner Karen Charlton, stating tax dollars pay costs not recovered by rent or fees.

Determining that level of subsidization has been a year-long target of administrators, who were directed by council to move to better cost recovery last year.

Nick Douvis, tournament co-ordinator for Medicine Hat Minor Hockey, said what the city makes up in savings, it could lose in tourism dollars.

His group now runs 12 tournaments for out-of-town entries, but is still having difficulty securing weekend icetime.

“If it’s a problem now and was a bigger problem before (the Canalta Centre opened), I don’t see how it gets better going backwards,” he told the News.

Parks officials have said access to the Canalta Centre could ease that, but that with the Arena, the city has much more ice available than comparable Alberta cities.

New figures state the Arena, which is the operating base of the Southeast Athletic Club, is about twice as expensive as the next most expensive local ice surface.

Similarly, the pool hosts 11 per cent of the swimmers in the city, which planners say can be absorbed at other outdoor pools.

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energy costs could force arenas and curling clubs to close

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