Saturday, December 2, 2017

Curling Club issues discussed at Town of Pincher Creek council meetings

Chris Davis - Pincher Creek Curling Club's aspirations to replace their aging facility was the subject of considerable debate and discussion at Town Council and at the Recreation Board Advisory table last month, November 2017, On November 14 the club, represented to council by past president and present Fundraising Coordinator Debbie Reed, asked for and received a letter of support from council regarding their application for an Alberta Culture and Tourism Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) matching grant in the amount of $959,620. After considering several possible venues for the proposed new facility, the grant application will be based on a proposed new structure and parking lot northeast of the Multi-Purpose Facility on Main Street, adjacent to the currently under construction spray park, and approximately a block away from the current curling structure. At council's November 27 meeting citizen Tia Doell appeared as a delegation to voice concerns about that location, including encroachment on the new spray park and surrounding green space.

Curling Club November 2017 delegation to Town Council / decision of council

On November 14, 2017 Debbie Reed appeared as a delegation before Town Council and requested a letter of support for the curling club's application to the Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP). Council also received a letter from Debbie and Bob Reed on the subject.

"This letter is to advise that the Pincher Creek Curling Rink has applied for a Community Facility Enhancement Program(CFEP) matching grant in the amount of $959,620. We need to replace our 60 year old curling rink. As per previous discussions with the facilities committee, the projected total cost of the project is $2,500,000."

According to the letter "the Community grants representative has contacted us for some clarification and information."

The club requested the Town state in their letter of support "that the Town will allow the new Pincher Creek Curling Club Rink (the project) to be constructed on land owned by the Town and the legal land description for this land; that the Town will provide the Pincher Creek Curling Club access to the lands for the purpose of carrying out this project; the amount of matching financial support the Town is providing for this project; and the Town will be/has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding/lease with the Pincher Creek Curling Club including the expected terms of this understanding similar to our existing agreement with the Town, (and) the length of time the agreement will be for. It must be for a minimum of 5 years after the Facility is built."

Excerpted from Debbie Reed's prepared notes for her presentation to council:  "The curling rink has been a discussion since 2009. Based on engineer reports, repairs need to be done structurally, or a new building built by 2018.  The rink is over 60 years old.It is an astronomical cost to rebuild and so a new building is comparatively less of a cost.  I realise green space is also an issue. However, the curling rink and various locations have been discussed at length through council meetings, facility meetings, and in the media over the past 9 years."

Reed told council that the club's membership has grown significantly, including a strong junior program for children and a rapidly growing interest in Stirling Curling for seniors and those with disabilities. She said approximately 500 people use the rink every month this season. In response to an often repeated suggestion from some members of the public, she explained that the vacant Sobey's building west of the current curling facility is privately owned, and the owners are not willing to sell. 

Council and Reed discussed the issue at length.  She said the area's curlers are not as concerned about where a new rink might go as they are that a new rink be built somewhere.  "We just want to curl."

Later during the same council meeting council passed a motion by councillor Wayne Elliott that council provide the requested letter of support, including (from the motion):

  1. that the Town will allow a new Pincher Creek Curling Rink to be constructed at the Pincher Creek Multi-Purpose Facility site described as Lot 1 Block 5 Plan 9111546 Pincher Creek, being land owned by the Town of Pincher Creek;
  2. that the Town will provide the Pincher Creek Curling Club with access to the described lands for the purpose of carrying out this project;
  3. that the Town is committed to contribute $1, 250,000 as matching financial support for this project; and
  4. that the Town will enter into a 5-year lease agreement with the Pincher Creek Curling Club with terms similar to previous lease agreement.

Citizen speaks against Multi-Purpose location for new rink

On November 27 council heard from citizen Tia Doell, who appeared as a delegation to express concerns about locating a new curling rink at the Multi-Purpose Facility location.   Doell also wrote a letter to council on October 31.  In it she says "For the safety of our children, we cannot have this set up around our spray park- that is not safety conscious, when we  are talking about having children running around playing - it's not ideal between two buildings and two parking lots.  The idea that a family can come and enjoy the spray park with the younger children while older children are at the  bike/skate park or the bike pump track. The green space promotes healthy living in our community.   I believe we are putting the beautiful green space and community health and safety on the back burner when this idea is  pushed forward.  Friends and I will be putting together a petition against the proposed plan."

Doell reiterated and expanded on those concerns during a lengthy back-and-forth with council.  She said she was a curler, and was not opposed to a new facility, but was opposed to the proposed location. She repeatedly told council she hoped there would be an information night about the issue, at which community members could provide input and receive information.

Mayor Don Anderberg, himself an avid curler, said he understood her concerns.  "This is more of a concept plan... there's probably lots of input that can happen there."  He said the Town does have a lot of green space, and "part of this plan is hopefully to create more green space."  He said the spray park is the first significant money the Town has spent on a new recreational facility in 20 years.  "We don't change much, we haven't done a bunch."  He also said the suggestion from a lot of people was to keep the curling rink downtown.  According to Anderberg, a new rink would also mean a new space downtown, because the old (current) rink would be torn down.  He asked for patience while the Town and the Facilities Planning Study Steering Committee work out the options.  "Work with us a little bit here, let us work through this," he asked.

Councillor Mark Barber said the committee has discussed replacing the soccer field with two new fields in another area of town, but the current field, where the proposed new curling rink and parking lot would go, is the preferred field for soccer.  Councillors Barber and Elliott represent the Town as members of the Facilities Planning Study Steering Committee.


Town Council is likely to discuss Doell's delegation at an upcoming regular council meeting.  Both local councils usually hear from a delegation at one meeting and then decide how to respond at their next public meeting, unless the issue(s) raised by a delegation are urgent and time sensitive.

Debbie Reed has indicated that she will likely appear as a Curling Club delegation to an upcoming public meeting of council for the MD of Pincher Creek.

A partial background

  • In 2010 the Pincher Creek curling facility was closed for a season due to deficiencies in the structure, outlined in an engineer's report that found significant flaws.
  • In 2011 the club's old ice plant broke down , curtailing that year's curling season.
  • In 2012 the club's then-President Randy Elliott appeared as the leader of a delegation to Town Council with the proposal to locate a new rink at the Pincher Creek golf course clubhouse site.  Elliott said the club had investigated three other sites as well.  One of those locations was behind the Multipurpose Facility.  "The site is big enough to accommodate a curling rink, but if there was ever a new arena to be attached to it there wouldn't be enough room."  Another site was the Ag Grounds "but the utilities and the waste-water would be a large issue in that area," said Elliott. "Site number 4 was relocating lobby end of the curling rink club to the back end between the curling club and the old pool, and by the time you would pay to have everything removed with all utilities, building, and moving the ice plant and everything else, we're already up to a million dollars.  I don't think it's worth putting a million dollars into that building.
  • In 2012 then-Mayor Ernie Olsen met with the club after the council of the day was unwilling to consider major funding support for a new facility.  "We have a ten year plan for the arena, and we would like to tie the curling club into that ten year plan," Olsen said. He recommended the club repair their present facility in the interim.
  • In 2014 the Town sets aside 1.3 million dollars to be used as a matching grant should the curling club be successful in its own fundraising attempts and a location and plan for a new facility be solidified.  At that time the projected cost for a new facility was 3 million dollars.
  • The club held an emergency meeting on February 1 of this year to discuss insurance issues that threatened to force an early end to last season.  he club ultimately secured insurance.
  • On February 13 of this year the Facilities Planning Steering Committee recommended that the Pincher Creek Golf Course be selected as the site for a new curling rink.  
  • On February 14 of this year council for the MD of Pincher Creek agreed to provide up to $140,000 in funding towards a new ice plant if the curling club was successful in their application for a CFEP grant, and also provided that the Town assumes ownership of the club's facility.
  • On March 19 of this year David Wittman of Gibbs Gage Architects presented to Town council the results of a study into the feasibility of constructing a new curling rink at the golf course site.  Various deficiencies of the golf course clubhouse building (which also includes Joe's Gym. squash courts, a restaurant, and the bowling alley) resulted in an estimated price tag of 10.6 to 12 million dollars, which effectively kiboshed that idea.   Gibbs said it would cost about the same to bring the golf course clubhouse up to code and build the new rink as it would to tear down the clubhouse and build a completely new facility.  "The golf course (clubhouse) is a seasonal structure," said Gibbs.  "I don't know if the clubhouse was ever intended to be used year-round."
  • The club  received a $125,000 CFEP grant for the purchase of a new portable ice plant in June of this year.
  • CFEP's approved 2018 grants will be announced next February.

1 comment:

  1. - Where would these new fields go? Impossible to be downtown where accessible to children of all ages. The locations in the community available would involve sending our children across a highway or busy intersections. The "carrot" of new fields with change rooms and bleachers will increase the required size and potential infrastructure need to support them. Was this need identified by public consultation or by a select group lured at the potential of having such facilities.

    - Who is at the helm of fiscal restraint? Take a functioning green space that is used for its intended purpose then spending tax payer dollars to erect a gaudy building and parking lots then spend even more taxpayer dollars to rebuild the spaces we just paved over outside of our downtown core. Has anyone checked their tax bills this year? Pincher Creek counsel has given us the answer to why we pay such high taxes.

    - If the curling rink delegation is not concerned about location then why is counsel pushing this location? The values Mrs Doell has brought forth are what bring families to our community.

    - The planning of both facilities has had direction from the town of Pincher Creek. Was there no long term vision for our community? Was it always the plan to box in the spray park and utilize the spray parks name to apply for grants to upgrade the swimming pool? Because there is very little use to a spray park that is boxed in and difficult to supervise our children. The surrounding communities understood this elementary concept that is evident by looking at their chosen locations.

    - Has the town done a survey of the community members that live in the area on their thoughts on taking away their close proximity green space?

    - When ever removing green space an environmental impact survey should be done, has counsel considered the environment?

    - If the town applied for any grants including the Canada 150 grant did those applications include reference in wording or illustration of a green space and access to other spring-fall recreational facilities surrounding the proposed project other then the structures that will stay?

    In a previous Voice article ( Mr. Verhagen brought forth several great points of concern and I encourage all Pincher Creek citizens to read the article and get involved in this process before the town misappropriates our tax paying dollars and paves over our precious green space, tennis courts, and newly built skate park for a project that leaves the community with more questions then answers.


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