Public consulted on future of Yorkton arenas

What will the rinks in Yorkton look like? The Farrell Agencies Arena needs ice plant improvements, the Kinsmen Arena is reaching end of life. What’s next for Yorkton’s leisure facilities? The City of Yorkton and aodbt Architecture and Interior Design are exploring alternatives, and a meeting was held at the Gallagher Centre on Nov. 27 to get public feedback on what the future of Yorkton’s ice needs to be.

The current proposal would see expansion to the Gallagher Centre, with an additional ice surface added to the facility beside the current Farrell Agencies Arena. This would also see the addition of renovated dressing rooms.

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Mitch Strocen with aodbt Architecture and Interior Design said that the reason behind the project comes down the age of the existing facilities. The infrastructure supporting the Gallagher Centre and the Kinsmen Arena is 40-50 years old, which is putting it at near end of life. The Kinsmen Arena also has additional issues, due to a low roof and humidity problems. While the building is structurally sound, other issues have lead to the proposal of a new ice surface at the Gallagher.

The proposed new design would be a straight replacement of the Kinsmen Arena, filling largely the same role in the community.

“It’s similar in size and similar in scope and the amount of seating, but with modern additions and efficiencies,” said Strocen.

The public consultation is key to the process, Strocen said, because they want to be responsive to what the community needs and wants. While this is a very early meeting, Strocen predicts there will be many public meetings as the project moves forward.

“It’s the taxpayers that fund it, so they deserve to know what’s happening in regards to this project.”

The best case scenario is a year for design and a couple years for construction, Strocen said, but there are many other road blocks that can spring up as the process moves forward. This is especially true for this project, because it would involve renovating a facility, the Gallagher Centre, which would still be in use while renovations take place.

“There are going to be a lot of moving this project, but we are hoping we can get it done within that time frame. That will depend on approvals, and things like that, and I think it’s prudent that Council to make sure that they make wise decisions. If it takes a little longer, that doesn’t bother me.”

The other advantage to doing both ice surfaces at a single location is efficiencies in infrastructure, explained Strocen. All of the staff will be at the same location, as will all of the equipment. The other advantage would be for attracting events, as it would be appealing to have a facility with two ice surfaces for a provincial level tournament.

But what happens to the Kinsmen Arena? Solutions on offer include demolition, sale, or turning it into an a different recreation facility. One attendee at the consultation thought that the Kinsmen should be kept, and that the city should keep it as a third ice surface. She said that many minor hockey teams struggle to find ice time for practice and games, and will have to travel to surrounding communities.

However, she did say that her main issue with the current arenas will be addressed by the plans currently proposed, that being dressing rooms. She noted that the current dressing room setup is especially bad for women, as they are often given a very small area which is difficult to change in and can barely hold one or two players. The proposed renovations have significantly improved changing facilities.

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