By Nick Bernard
Following his report on the activities of the Community Services department at the Nov. 25 Minden Hills council meeting, director Craig Belfry was asked about a number of concerns arising from the new arena in Minden.
Councillor Jennifer Hughey expressed concern from her constituents about the hours of the walking track.
“There’s been some concern from constituents that have called me … They’re being told that it’s not available, after a certain period, but then they’re actually seeing people using it after those times,” she said. “So there’s just some concern as to what the actual schedule is.”
Belfry explained that a permanent COVID screening presence would need to be put in place before the walking track opened fully to the public.
“Once they’re there, we’ll be able to fully open up the track in the evening. Right now we don’t want to rely on minor hockey or figure skating to do the screenings to the general public … we generally think the track will be open until about 9 o’clock at night.”
Councillor Jean Neville asked Belfry about the progress of the design and construction of the arena’s snack bar, which she cited as a major need for the facility.
“When I’ve been at hockey games, everybody’s looking for something,” she said. “We need that snack bar running ASAP.”
Belfry explained that the snack bar was part of the Haliburton Huskies’ tenancy agreement, but that a report on its progress would be submitted on Dec. 9 [for the next council meeting].
Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell’s questions to Belfry pertained to public access to the heated viewing area within the arena.
“I have parents that are in there watching, and they say they’re getting kicked out of the warm viewing area, or they were told they can’t go in there,” Schell explained. “I just can’t imagine why we have an almost $14 million dollar arena, and the warm area isn’t something that’s included in the price of watching a hockey game outside of the Huskies.”
Belfry reiterated that the warm viewing area is part of the tenancy agreement with the Huskies. Outside of that, Belfry says, there is a fee and charge for that area – a response that prompted head shakes from Schell, Neville, and Sayne.
“It’s a rentable space, it can be used as a multi-purpose room, there’s a lower warm viewing area,” Belfry said with a shrug. “If council wishes us to not charge for that, that’s something we can look at.”
A motion to explore the fee structure of the warm seating area was passed. For now, the upper viewing area has been opened to the public.
Damage and vandalism to the Minden boardwalk addressed
Councillor Bob Carter directed the conversation toward the Minden boardwalk, which has experienced recent damage sustained.
“It has been closed for the season,” Belfry explained. “It’s not in great shape. We did get a grant to look at it in the spring as part of our capital projects.”
He said that staff suspects that some damage caused to the boardwalk was done by heavy equipment like ATVs.
“We are having lots of issues with people throwing the barricades from the closures into the marshy area,” he said, “As part of the project, we’re going to look at gates going onto the boardwalk.