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Outdoor rink reductions set for December

By CJ Goater Sep 26, 2023 | 6:00 AM

Thunder Bay City Hall (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

City council has approved the permanent closure of nine outdoor ice rinks in December of this year.

The closures will include Woodside Parkette, Anton Parkette, Pickton Parkette, John Kusznier Park, Third & High, Wilson Park, Franklin Park, Confederation Drive, and Holt Parkette.

In addition to the closures Waddington Park, Charry Park, and Oliver Road Park are set to be downgraded to boarded unsupervised rinks following the same time frame.

Going forward city administration is set to report back on or before December 4, 2023, with the 2024 cost savings associated with the closure to be included in the 2024 budget. City administration is also set to provide usage statistics for the 2023-2024 season to see if further closures should be pursued.

“Prior to the 2022-2023 season, 11 outdoor sites were identified as being consistently well below target rates,” City Councillor Kasey Etreni noted highlighting the fact that money would be saved through closures based on usage rates.

As part of the 2023 budget process city administration suggested the reduction of outdoor rink sites from 39 to 8.

City Councillor Mark Bentz noted that the discussion of rink reductions, and the tabled resolution that ultimately passed, began as council looked to create more money in the budget. “We asked for more than $2 million to be saved in the budget. They (city administration) came with a whole lot of stuff (suggestions on how to save money), so this is our way of saying, ya know what, we couldn’t do it all, but we’re going to do some of it.”

As the process has progressed the amount of rinks set to close has slowly been reduced to the number approved today.

The memorandum brought to council in response to the proposed closure of 31 rinks, was for a reduction of 13 rinks. After debate, the Green Acres Park, Friendship Gardens, Thornloe Parkette, and Castlegreen rinks were removed from the reduction list.

The closures come as the majority of the rinks set to close have faced lower-than-required usage numbers that have warranted the closures.