Nadaya McNeil and her father John McNeil were instrumental in creating new outdoor ice rink in 100 Mile House this winter. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Nadaya McNeil and her father John McNeil were instrumental in creating new outdoor ice rink in 100 Mile House this winter. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Outdoor ice rink goes ahead but future uncertain

Rinks organizers frustrated by lack of progress on permanent facility

The 100 Mile Outdoor Rink will proceed this winter, but the long-term future of the popular recreation spot remains uncertain.

Following a proposal to local leaders earlier this year to create an all-season multi-use sports complex, rink society directors Nadaya McNeil and her father, John, were back at the South Cariboo Joint Committee Monday, expressing frustration at the lack of progress.

McNeil said she was under the impression the presentation in March was well-received and they are now forced to “sit on our hands” until the Cariboo Regional District and District of 100 Mile House can commit to assisting with the project.

“One of the frustrations we’re running into right now is that there are so many funding options for this,” McNeil said. “Private businesses and citizens want to throw money at us for this project.”

McNeil added she never expected to be responsible for all the management of the outdoor rink – including the maintenance and safety – and will not be carrying on past this winter without the help of local government.

“We want to work to make it a permanent asset in town but we aren’t willing to be solely responsible,” she said. “Unless we can move forward towards a permanent, city-run facility, this will be our last season.”

The “stalemate,” according to CRD directors is a result of the upcoming referendum next June proposing an expansion of the recreation taxation boundary, to include all of Electoral areas G, H and L. At the moment, the recreation boundaries end at 108 Mile Ranch and Lone Butte, which means residents outside those areas have to buy a $200 recreation pass to use CRD services.

“We have a lot of recreational asks from the community,” CRD chair Margo Wagner said. “Even though we may feel that your project has some great ideas behind it, it’s hard for us to commit to do anything until we have that in place.”

In response, John McNeil questioned how much work had been done at the district and regional district level since the society’s presentation in March.

“It’s been eight months,” he said. “Was there any lobbying of School District 27, or the Ministry of Education? Did anyone make any kind of an effort?”

100 Mile District Mayor Mitch Campsall responded that he had been in contact with the school board, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

“There’s a process that we have to go through with that particular piece of land,” Campsall said. “Hopefully we can secure it for good. But right now, we’ve got about another six organizations, not just the pool, that are waiting for us to go through the referendum before we can put any more money forward. When it comes to government, things don’t move as fast.”

Coun. Ralph Fossum questioned whether the rink’s location – at the tennis courts on site of the former junior high on Cedar Avenue – is ideal for a permanent recreation facility.

“I’m not convinced that your use of that property is the best use of prime real estate in 100 Mile House,” Fossum said, noting that seniors housing would be a more “logical” choice for the parcel.

McNeil replied that the society would be open to utilizing other central and accessible locations within the district for the project.

As winter approaches, John McNeil said that work has been underway at the current Cedar Avenue outdoor rink location. A Zamboni has been purchased and will be stored at his shop in town. A $5,000 grant from the joint committee was also approved Monday to pay for a liner to be placed under the ice and goalposts to be installed.

John McNeil said that when spring rolls around, they will pack up the rink and store it until such a time as a permanent location can be found.

“If there’s not a proposal from you people to get us a piece of land and help us write grants, then we are done,” he said.



melissa,smalley@100milefreepress.net

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100 Mile House

 

The construction of 100 Mile House’s Outdoor Ice Rink was begun last week but questions about a permanent facility remain unanswered. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

The construction of 100 Mile House’s Outdoor Ice Rink was begun last week but questions about a permanent facility remain unanswered. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)