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One new arena, coming up

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 03/01) - After a decade-long debate, city council has finally agreed on what type of new arena Yellowknifers will get.

Yellowknife hockey teams will have a new ice rink by September 2002. - NNSL file photo

In a move that will force the city to tighten its financial belt, Yellowknife city council has decided to build an arena with one ice rink and the shell for two at the Yellowknife Correctional Centre site.

In a vote of four to one, city council decided to go with the phased twin-pad arena with a shell on Wednesday as recommended by the priorities, policy and budget committee.

By opting for the shell the city went $300,000 over their arena reserve built up over the last five years. The shell option will cost $8.5 million for the first phase.

The city also had a choice of building a single ice pad or a twin-pad arena.

Councillors Robert Hawkins, Alan Woytuik, Dave Ramsay, and Dave McCann voted for the recommendation. Coun. Wendy Bisaro voted against it.

"This is a step in the right direction," said Ramsay.

Bisaro said she couldn't support the recommendation because of the $300,000 overshoot.

"I cannot support the deferral of capital projects," said Bisaro noting that the city will have to find ways to compensate for the difference.

Woytuik, who voted against the shell option at the Monday committee meeting, said he was torn over the issue and said he made his final decision to support the recommendation on the spot.

"It's the best way to motivate user groups to raise money to complete the second phase quicker," said Woytuik.

Despite the last minute political theatrics it was an anti-climactic ending to a seemingly endless debate that spanned four different councils and three different mayors. It featured a plebiscite, a slew of proposed sites, a busted deal with the Yellowknives Dene and council flip-flops, all against the backdrop of a slowly deteriorating Gerry Murphy arena.

But it ended with a whimper at a 5 p.m special council meeting on Wednesday with three councillors missing, an audience of one and subdued debate, everything that could be said had been said. The redundancy deafening, the meeting lasted just under an hour.

"I'm glad they finally made a decision," said Yellowknife resident Bev Loutitt.

"You get tired of reading about it in the paper. It's a good thing they'll start building before the Gerry Murphy falls down," said Loutitt.

The first ice pad is scheduled for completion in September 2002 and the second pad in 2005 at a total cost of $10.5 million.