Smiths Falls community services director Art Manhire along with community development clerk Nick Pilon presented a report on ice rental trends and arena operations performance to council on Monday, Oct. 28.
“We saw a $40,000 increase in girls hockey,” Pilon said. “Also saw a decrease of interest in minor hockey with a loss of $20,000.”
Manhire identified the arena as the third highest user of energy in town. The other two are the water treatment plant and the waste water treatment plant.
In order to save money on electricity, ice booking times are staggered for efficiency of both staffing and equipment.
One of the biggest trends identified were that both arenas only sold 50 per cent of ice rental times.
“We have influence, we don’t have control,” Manhire said about which ice times are sold.
The 4 p.m. to midnight time slot makes up 99 per cent of ice bookings with weekend use dropping off completely.
“Why aren’t we using 100 per cent of one arena?” Councillor Wendy Alford said.
The ice plant in the youth arena will be due for replacement within the year and expected to cost upwards of $50,000.
Council briefly discussed the idea of putting turf down and making the youth arena into an indoor play centre.
“People can get different experiences out of [the arena] not just hockey,” Manhire said. “ It’s the social aspect of the arena.”
The cost of hockey continues to prevent local families from signing their kids up to play.
“Hockey has become elitist, you might as well join a country club,” Councillor Jay Brennan said. “I want kids to play hockey, but if they can’t afford it… It’s not a business it’s a service we provide in the most cost effective way possible.”
“Every Canadian kid should know how to play and it shouldn’t be this hard to do it,” Councillor Wendy Alford
The arena will continue to offer discounted rates for children to play hockey as well as offering free gear in partnership with Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program.