Large rink southdale

The Southdale Community Centre said skyrocketing Hydro costs and the efficiency of its ice plant has driven a decision to not use its leisure rink for skating this winter.

Up to this point, community members have been able to use the small, indoor ice surface for free.

The board president for the centre, Tamara Bauknecht, said she was not surprised by to see an outcry from community members over the decision on social media, and the future of the ice-rink is far from set in stone.

“Nobody wants to close it, we all love it,” Bauknecht said.

“But once you sit down, and listen to the process, and you listen to the reasoning behind why there’s so many reason why it could be a good thing for one year, it makes sense,” she said.

The decision to not use it as an ice surface in the coming winter is being described as a pilot project that will allow staff and the board to measure how expensive it is to operate and how well the ice plant, which is also used for the centre’s two full-sized ice rinks, functions without it.

Currently, costs for the smaller rink’s operation, such as power and water, are lumped in with costs for the larger rinks, Bauknecht said.

“I don’t want to say we’re leaning towards putting it back in, but our goal, our objective and our hope, is 100 per cent to put it back in,” she said, adding that they aren’t making an irreversible changes to the space that would prevent it from being used as a rink in the future.

“The facility itself is going to stay exactly as is in the off-season,” she said.

She said in assessing whether to bring it back again, they may look at charging an admission cost, something some community members upset over the closure said they’d be willing to pay.

Bauknecht said the cost isn’t the only factor, though. She said they’ll also use the upcoming season to gauge whether having additional space available will help them meet an increase in demand for other kinds of programs. She said there are plans in place to hold fitness programs there this winter.

“And how many demands do we fill by having it as a different facility, and do we need to look at maybe adding a different facility to the club. So that is part of the fact finding mission as well,” she said.

A notice to community members said no disruptions to Learn to Skate programs are expected, and there will be additional public skating time available at a full sized rink.

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