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Private operator interested in taking over city arena: Shoemaker

He says the west-end rink costs taxpayers $150,000 a year despite being booked to 90-per-cent capacity
20141201 Matthew Shoemaker KA
FILE PHOTO: Ward 3 councillor Matthew Shoemaker. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

Councillor Matthew Shoemaker says a resolution asking city staff to explore the option of leasing out the McMeeken Centre is not intended as an effort to privatize the ice rink.

“It is a motion to consider whether or not to lease out the McMeeken. We’d still own it. It would still be our asset, it would just be the operations that would be leased out,” said Shoemaker.

The McMeeken Centre, located on Goulais Avenue, has long been identified as being in need of repair or replacement and operates at an annual cost to taxpayers of $150,000.

Shoemaker said he was approached by someone inquiring how they would go about leasing out the building on a permanent basis.

“I don’t know if it’s worth doing or not — whether or not we should lease the McMeeken out — but I think we should explore whether or not we should,” said Shoemaker.

“In order for staff to even consider that opportunity they would need direction from (city council) to do so,” he added.

A motion to have staff report back on the feasibility of the leasing will be considered in Tuesday's meeting of City Council.

An option to add an ice rink to the adjacent Northern Community Centre has gone about as far as it can without funding, said Shoemaker.

Shoemaker said one option would see the money brought in from the lease of the McMeeken Centre being put toward Phase 3 of the Northern Community Centre.

“I would be open to using the funding to put aside for a new arena,” said Shoemaker.

In 2015, council heard ice time at the McMeeken Centre is booked at 90 per cent capacity from October to March.