Saturday, March 10, 2018

Curling Club president addresses Pincher Creek Town Council

Jonathan Skrimshire - Armed with a thick sheaf of letters of support from downtown businesses, Curling Club President Jessie Nelson appeared before Pincher Creek Council March 7 to present figures on membership and usage of the existing curling rink and to argue for the retention of the facility in the town's central core.

Nelson indicated that the club currently has 135 members, 36 sturling curlers, 22 Juniors, and a total of approximately 500 students making use of the facility through school programs. The students, coming from Matthew Halton, Saint Michael's, Canyon, Lundbreck, and the Pincher Creek Colony, make three visits to the rink each season as part of their physical education programs.

Nelson presented letters from 28 local businesses stating support of the curling rink remaining located in the downtown core. She also explained the importance of the central location to allow walking distance access for seniors and student participants from Matthew Halton and Saint Michael's schools.

Nelson provided attendance figures for the club's various bonspiels, emphasizing the importance of these events for generating commerce for local businesses and exposure for the community. "Our Combo Bonspiel [...] had seven out of town teams [...] which is approximately 30 people. Those people are staying in hotels [...] They go to Subway, they go to The Grill or Harvest [Coffeehouse] and they eat lunch. And then they walk back, and they stop at stores along the way."

Nelson was clear that she does not support relocating the facility from the town's central core. "I think it's important for our curling rink to be centrally located", she said. "I really do believe that it's important to have those people coming downtown. And I sometimes worry that if it's located somewhere else in town, that possibly those people might not even venture downtown."

Plans being developed for the new curling rink include options for four or six sheets. Nelson argued for the construction of a six sheet facility. "Having six sheets would benefit us as a curling rink. Not only because sturling and the schools are constantly fighting over ice time [...] but we could also host play-downs", she said. Nelson cited a letter from the Alberta Curling Federation indicating the Federation prefers a minimum of six sheets when awarding championship level competitions to a community.

Following the presentation, Council members sought clarification on some of the usage figures for the rink, and requested a breakdown of the user base between residents of the town and the municipal district. Nelson indicated that roughly 55 per cent of regular users were residents of the MD and 45 per cent residents of the the town of Pincher Creek. Mayor Don Anderberg confirmed that the numbers Nelson indicated were consistent with historical use of the facility.

The site debate, financing and public engagement

The site currently being considered for the construction of a new curling rink, on the northeast corner of the Multi-Purpose Facility grounds, remains controversial. Citizen delegations to Council and members of the Recreation Advisory Board have expressed concerns regarding encroachment on the spray park, the loss of the playing field, and the impact on the overall green space area. Financing of the project is also incomplete. Pincher Creek Council has committed $1.25-million to the project, but Council for the Municipal District has made no funding commitment at this time.

The two local councils will be addressing financing of the project at their Joint Council meeting, March 8. The public will also have an opportunity to express their views on site selection in the near future. Councillor Mark Barber has indicated that a public meeting is in the works, at which two site options for the new rink will be presented: the Multi-Purpose Facility site, and a second site that has not been disclosed. No firm target date for the public meeting has been announced at this time.

Related articles:
MD Council defers funding decision on proposed Pincher Creek curling rink 

Recreation Advisory Board reviews revised Pincher Creek curling rink site plan
Revised Pincher Creek curling rink site plan drawing released

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