Public feedback sees 'cautious optimism' for Penticton's plan to replace aging arenas and buildings

Aging buildings need repair?

Feedback from the public on many of the City's aging public facilities will be presented to Penticton council on Tuesday, hearing 'cautious optimism' from the crowd on recommendations.

The city is weeding through what public arenas, buildings and museums may need to be demolished and consolidated in the name of financial sense.

Back in September, the city heard from consultants Colliers Projects Ltd. that city buildings like McLaren and Memorial arenas are nearing the end of their life, and other city properties like the art gallery and the library and museum may make more sense to be relocated into one centre building.

The proposed $100M plan puts forth for major recommendations over two decades:

  • Create a new Arts & Culture Centre downtown to house the library, museum, gallery and other arts groups, by selling the library/museum and gallery sites as well as leasing the Leir House
  • Consolidate ice services into a new building on the SOEC site and demolish McLaren and Memorial arenas, selling the McLaren site for commercial development
  • Replace Fire Hall #1 downtown with a new Public Safety and Emergency Services Centre and upgrade Fire Hall #2
  • Retain City Hall in its current location, and modernize it as required

Now that City staff have hosted over 20 informational gatherings both online and in person, connected with user groups and committees, had conversations with the Penticton Indian Band and asked for public feedback, they'll be breaking down the likes and concerns.

Conclusions from the feedback indicate that respondents agree the buildings are in poor condition, but there needs to be a focus on modern functionality and financial sustainability within the projects.

Most feel more information is needed before full support is given.

Local groups spoke up for the new twin-rinks facility recommendation, with the Penticton Minor Hockey Association expressing many concerns regarding the proposal.

"Memorial Arena is our home base, our home rink. We have banners hanging from every available space, we have history on the walls, our trophies in the cases," Darla Roy, the communications officer of the Penticton Minor Hockey Association wrote in a letter to the city.

"We are also concerned with the cost of the ice with the new rinks."

The organization expressed interest in having a voice in the design of the rink, hoping to see more modern facilities with multiple, bigger dressing rooms, office and storage space and heat above the bleachers.

In regards to a combined Arts & Culture Centre, the Penticton Public Library Board shared support for a new centre and hoped to continue discussions on how to create a building that could meet all user needs.

“Our current facility, built in 1968 and expanded in the 1980s, has become sadly inadequate for the needs of a modern busy library,”David Folstad, the library co-chair wrote in his letter. “We are very excited at the prospect of a new facility that will carry the library into the future.”

One major concern is the location of the building, since the library currently has good visibility with the community, proximity to downtown and local schools.

City staff will still need to conduct further engagements with several committees and continue conversations with the PIB, as they move into the next stage, which involves a deep dive into assets along with decisions and recommendations from council.

The preliminary engagement results can be found in the agenda for Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting here.

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