KEEPING IT RUNNING
Community meeting to save Pier Rink.
The volunteer board that operates the Whitney Pier Rink will sit down again this week to plan a community meeting as it fights to keep the 50-year-old rink open. Jack Pearson, a member of the volunteer board that operates the cash-strapped facility, said the board’s six members and Sydney Whitney Pier Liberal MLA Derek Mombourquette met Friday to discuss the situation.
He said they’ll meet again Wednesday to draw up an agenda for a Feb. 16 or Feb. 17 meeting where they’ll try to gauge the level of community support.
“If we don’t get the interest then it’s not worth the effort to try to keep it going next year,” said Pearson, 78, who figures an infusion of young blood on the board will be as important as money if they want to continue operating the hockey arena.
“If we can get all that and the people will back us on this stuff and join the committees, we’ll try to keep the building open for another couple of years.”
The rink’s struggle to pay its bills was exacerbated when the Sydney Minor Hockey Association moved the 21 weekly hours it had booked at the Whitney Pier Rink to the new Membertou Sports and Wellness Centre.
After threatening to shut off the electricity, Pearson said Nova Scotia Power has given the facility until the end of the season to pay an $8,000 bill. In order to make good on that, Pearson said they board will explore ways to keep the Whitney Pier Rink open in the summer by hosting flea markets and other events.
He said the rink’s future also hinges on the outcome of a Cape Breton Regional Municipality inspection set to take pace in May. That engineering report by the municipality, which owns the land but not the building, will determine the structural integrity of the building, which was built in 1967.
“We’re just trying to let the people know that it’s worth saving — it’s a good building as of yet,” said Pearson, who said the community support has been strong, with several businesses expressing interest in helping out financially.
As well, an online GoFundMe campaign launched last week for the community arena had raised $1,310 of its $25,000 goal as of Monday evening.
“All of I’ve heard is don’t quit — keep fighting them,” said Pearson.