I feel compelled to speak against the proposed Minden Hills Arena renovation not because I don’t recognize the importance of recreational facilities in our village but because of the value for cost the plan represents.
In a nutshell here are what I think are damning numbers (all from Census 2016).
The arena component costs about $8 million two-thirds of the proposed price. What proportion of the population uses the arena? Let’s say all school-age boys and girls (age four to 19) do: That’s 660 kids. Let’s say 100 adults use the arena – adult hockey public skating. That’s 760 people 12.5 per cent of the permanent population. For 66 per cent of the cost of the proposed renovation. For $8 million.
Seasonal ratepayers will also pay for this renovation and are very unlikely to use it. There are 3259 private dwellings in Minden Hills that are not occupied by usual residents. Let’s say each dwelling represents four seasonal residents which equals 13036 people which added to the 6090 permanent residents gives a population of 19126. The 760 people who are likely to use the arena represent four per cent of the population who will bear the cost.
So $8 million is being spent for use by four per cent of the population. That does not seem to me to be an equitable or fair or wise use of resources.
I know that hockey is the Canadian sacred cow even though it is a gendered sport and has become extremely elitist. Nor should competitive figure skating an alternatively gendered and also elite sport be used to shore up hockey’s “right” to public resources. The closest location where hockey and figure skating could take place if you disregard the natural ice that surrounds us eight months or so of the year is 25 kilometres away from Minden village. The closest pool where children can swim a not-so-elite sport is 100 kilometres away. We expect parents to schlepp their children to Bracebridge for swimming lessons because building a pool doesn’t make economic sense. Why aside from sacred-cowism does the same logic not apply to parents of skaters?
One can live well without skating: most of us do. We can’t live well without appropriate housing but many of us do. Our economy cannot thrive without transportation available to all as needed which isn’t currently present.
Please urge your municipal councillors to consider carefully how and why they prioritize in the upcoming decisions on the arena renovation.