By Trevor Busch
Improvements to the Taber Arena’s concession facility have been given the stamp of approval by town council for 2020 with the project expected to cost up to $120,000.
At council’s Sept. 9 meeting, Coun. Jack Brewin asked administration to look into the cost of upgrading the concession at the Taber Community Centre Arena.
“Due to the limitations of the concession, it is challenging for concession operators to provide food services typical in a recreation facility,” said administration in their background to the decision at council’s Sept. 23 meeting. “This has also made it challenging to find interested parties in taking over the operations of the concession. The arena concession has received very few improvements over the years and we have heard feedback from our user groups indicating that they would like to see improved food services.”
A list of needs for the concession includes new counters and tops, removing the existing corner round walls and replacing the outside walls with more “user-friendly and practical” picket windows, replacing the range, hood, freezers and fire suppression equipment, replacing all flooring, removing wood shelving and replacement with steel for cleanliness, and replacing all lighting, a door, and cleaning and repainting the walls.
“The flooring would need to be upgraded. We did upgrade some areas under the deep fry area, but the whole floor would need to be replaced,” said recreation director Dawn Phillips. “The shelves are wooden, so they’re not wipeable, they would need to be upgraded, the recommendation is to upgrade to steel shelving so they’re wipeable. The counters, that part would need to be redone, partly because we’re putting in a grill. Just the layout of the concession to get the grill in there, there’s very little space, so the recommendation is to remove the rounded corners and open it up more, get more space, possibly putting in a prep area, right now there’s no room for prep. It’s just not very user-friendly.”
To install a grill, further considerations are required to meet Alberta Health, Fire Code and Building Code legislation.
“The major deficiency in the concession facility at the arena is the lack of a grill,” said Phillips. “But to address the installation of a grill, there are several changes that are required not only to make the area more user friendly, but also to bring it up to code.”
Phillips pointed out renovations to the concession area had been brought to previous council by administration two years ago, but the initiative stalled.
“This item was brought to council in closed session on September 11, 2017, and no action was taken at that time.”
Working with Building Maintenance, the estimate of renovation costs was $80,000 – $120,000, depending on the level of upgrades desired. A budget of $80,000 was proposed by administration in the 2021 Capital Budget.
“With all the new activity in the area, pickle ball and field hockey in the summer, I think it’s something that we should really have a look at upgrading,” said Brewin on Sept. 23. “There’s a lot of wants for people that use the place that say there is nowhere to eat when the VerSet hockey school is on, and they had nowhere they could really go. Lots of people were cooking in the parking lot and doing what they could. If we had a new concession there, we’d be able to serve that. I think it’s something we haven’t looked at for a long time, and I think it’s about time we made it a good place that someone wants.”
Administration did illustrate that improvements to the facility would result in a potential increase in service levels for users of the Taber Arena.
“Currently the arena concession is not open as often as our patrons would like. This concern was brought forward to administration by the VerSet Hockey camp organizers and the lacrosse organizers. With an improved concession area, we will have a better opportunity to provide food services to users.”
Coun. Mark Garner argued the current appearance and functionality of the concession area needs to be brought into the 21st century.
“I toured that on Saturday (Sept. 21), and it is in dire need of help. It’s like going back into the ’60s.”
Coun. Garth Bekkering was concerned about the various code issues mentioned by administration, with Phillips confirming that the facility if untouched is still grandfathered with regard to code changes and updates.
“I’m very concerned, as I said, and I think to wait until 2021 would not be responsible,” said Bekkering. “I would strongly suggest we put it on the capital budget for 2020.”
Following capital budget deliberations later in the meeting, council voted unanimously (6-0) to include arena concession renovations in the 2020 capital budget with the project not to exceed $120,000. Coun. Joe Strojwas was absent.