City mulls closing aging urban rinks
Single-pad arenas could be on chopping block as ice rentals plummet
The City of Ottawa is considering closing or repurposing some single-pad rinks — mostly aging arenas in the urban core — because of a drastic drop in ice rental.
Single-pad arenas built in the 1950s and 1960s have outdated change rooms and other facilities, and are more costly to maintain because they require staff and equipment that could be put to better use at newer, multi-pad arenas, the city said.
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"We ... need to look at closing single-pad arenas or repurposing them and moving to a multi-pad configuration so when we build new, we will be building double-pad or four-pad arenas," Dan Chenier, general manager of the city's recreation, cultural and facility services department, told an advisory committee Tuesday evening.
He said single-pad rinks in the urban core are more likely to be targets for closure because rinks in rural areas also tend to be community hubs, and are often the only city facility in the area.
From 2014 to 2018, arena rentals at the city's 44 ice pads fell by 10,000 hours, Chenier said.
"We need to address that, that we have a declining demand and a supply that has continued to increase. We need to adjust that to meet what we need," he said.
Linda Tremblay, director of community programs, said staff haven't yet arrived at a number of rinks to be closed, or decided which ones might be on the chopping block.
She said the city is waiting to consult residents to figure out why the decline is happening.
"We want to hear what happened," Tremblay said. "We do have some proof that we have some older adult leagues, some men's leagues, that will pay more at the private ice because it's at a better time now."
As well as competition from private and university rinks, changing demographics and a general drop in hockey enrollment may be contributing factors, she said.
When the time comes to close arenas, Tremblay said staff will weigh each one against the five nearest facilities, and will ask the community for feedback on other possible uses for the buildings.
The city's community and protective services committee will receive the staff proposal next month.