By Greg Price
The town is looking for a few good men and women to form an official arena committee, with an application deadline set for Jan. 15.
Due to increased concerns about the condition of the small ice arena, council had authorized the Taber Recreation Board to create a committee to look at all the aspects of building a new ice surface and future use of the small ice facility.
“Our small ice surface is in really bad shape. From the boards to the bleachers —pretty much everything,” said Luke Wijna, recreation board chairman in the start of the discussion on forming the arena committee. “It will be good to look for a solution by discussing our options.”
At the Taber Recreation Board’s meeting on Dec. 1, board members bantered about how the committee would possibly look as far as membership. For arena committee members to be insured, they would have to be appointed by town council who will be taking recommendations from the recreation board and will be reviewing committee member applications that come in until mid-January.
“These could be people board members are already approaching, that’s OK. But we will be putting these applications out there, so it’s fair to all in case someone wants to be on this committee,” said Aline Holmen, director of recreation for the Town of Taber. “You also have to consider the make up of this committee, it can be members at large, you may want the town and the M.D., recreation board members, and administration.”
The Taber Skateboard Park Committee was seen as a template for the Arena Committee as far as number of members go, which totaled six. However the number of members the final number end up being on the committee, passion for ice supports should be a top priority was echoed by many sitting on the recreation board.
“We know where the lines exist. But the average person who plays hockey doesn’t know where the M.D. starts and where the town finishes. It’s not so important to me that we have the M.D. there or Danielle there if you find the right people there. You need the leaders in the community in this area (hockey etc.) and they’ll lead you, just like the gymnastics club did with their building,” said Tom Machacek, who was serving as the alternative member of the M.D. of Taber representative for the recreation board meeting, filling in for Merrill Harris who was absent.
Town councillor and recreation board member Randy Sparks noted direction for the committee would be multifaceted, from exploring grant opportunities, to exploring pricing options of similar newer ice surfaces around southern Alberta and beyond in terms of feasibility.
Wijna inquired if a new ice surface could accommodate another item that was high on the recent Recreation Plan the town did; a walking track.
“This is just my opinion, but I think we should be looking at an ice surface that is a nice ice surface. I don’t think we want to be getting into something that is going to cost the town $10 million dollars. There are some really nice ice surfaces around that I know that doesn’t need a whole ton of bleachers. We already have the dressing rooms,” said Sparks.
“We can have a really nice ice arena that serves a really nice purpose that wouldn’t break the bank. Once you start putting in all sorts of walking trails, and everything like that, the price accelerates because you have to have more staff to monitor those extra things. Those things are nice, but I think we have to focus on an ice arena that doubles the town’s ice capacity, so that Taber minor hockey teams and players are not going elsewhere for practices and games. I went to an ice facility up in Rosemary a few years ago, they received a grant from the NHL’s player association that built them a really nice ice arena for not a whole lot of money.”
Recreation board member Danielle Hansen inquired to administration if the future arena committee could be equipped already with the intel the town has done previously over the years in exploring a second ice surface to better equip its knowledge base.
“That way the committee is not looking at Taj Mahal options right away and wasting a lot of their time (being on the committee),” said Hansen.
Those interested in applying for a spot on the arena committee can pick up an application form at the town office where applications will be taken until Jan. 15.
The applications will then be reviewed by the recreation board with recommendations made to town council for the appointment of the committee.