New arena game plan
Warmer ice and a shorter season are part of the North Glengarry recreation department’s game plan to reduce expenses and increase revenues at the Maxville Sports Complex, that finished 2015 with a $300,000 deficit.
Recreation director Terry Gilmer said the number one goal is to save energy at the facility, which has consistently suffered financial losses.
One way of reversing that trend is to allow ice temperatures to rise at night when the rink isn’t in use. The practice has already paid off at Alexandria’s Glengarry Sports Palace, which was about $200,000 in the red.
“Hydro costs continue to escalate so we are looking at ways to better manage our energy consumption at all our facilities,” said Mr. Gilmer.
Hydro alone can cost up to $400 a day in the warmer months at an older arena since refrigeration equipment must work much harder to remove heat from the ice surface and maintain ice quality.
“When they built arena facilities in the '60s, '70s and '80s, the seasons were shorter and energy was cheap, so they aren’t built with efficiency in mind,” Mr. Gilmer said.
The GSP was built in 1976 and the Maxville arena in 1978.
The township is also upgrading to more energy-efficient lighting.
Glengarry Sports Palace already replaced its lighting system, while upgrades for Maxville are in the 2016 capital budget.
The length of the season also affects costs. The Maxville facility opened about a month earlier last year to accommodate the Alexandria Junior B Glens hockey club since GSP hosted Countryfest, delaying the ice installation to mid-September. ”We aim to end the ice season in mid-April instead of May in Maxville, which should help save us money. We had limited rentals and it ran our hydro bill up,” said Mr. Gilmer.
The Maxville facility alone spent $111,117 on hydro in 2015, and $96,467 in 2014.
To increase revenues for the Maxville facility the recreation department wants to sell more ice time.
“With the new midget format, we lost three midget teams in the area which ate some of the later time slots,” said Mr. Gilmer. “It’s hard to find replacements and each team used between $1,000 and $1,500 a month of ice.”
This was his first year Mr. Gilmer completed the budget process with the township. “We should be on budget this season, or do slightly better,” he said.
The costs for the Glengarry Sports Palace in Alexandria are “trending well.” Revenues were down from September to December compared to last season but expenses decreased.
Staffing costs are also lower at GSP, which operates with three union staff members compared to five in Maxville.
For the 2015 year-end results, the Maxville Sports Complex ended with a $311,000 deficit.
Revenues were $267,799, and expenses $579,574.
The deficit has been rising over the years. In 2014 it had a deficit of $ 301,337. In 2013, it lost $177,508.
While GSP finished with a $40,000 surplus, since it is funded
25 per cent by South Glengarry and 75 per cent by North Glengarry at the beginning of the year, in reality it recorded a deficit of about $200,000.
In 2015, North Glengarry contributed $206,195 and SG $68,732 to GSP, for a total of close to $275,000 for operations. Without those contributions, in 2015 the GSP would have a $ 210,000 deficit, and in 2014, a $235,760 deficit. “Arenas, especially in rural environments, do operate at a loss,” said Mr. Gilmer. “It’s the price municipalities pay to provide activities for residents and invest in developing youth. Some municipalities get creative with accounting and allocating expenses to other departments, but ultimately it all comes out of the same pocket.”
“I think we are in for a stronger year,” added Mr. Gilmer of the year ahead. “We’ve made some adjustments and planned for the future.”
North Glengarry Mayor Chris McDonell agrees with Mr. Gilmer’s observations, adding Maxville also has a bigger rink compared to the Sports Palace in Alexandria, again adding to the Maxville facility costs.
The mayor relates people shouldn’t be too concerned about the red ink. “That is going to happen and that’s the way it is,” he said.
“They are both in a deficit. Neither one is paying for themselves. All rinks cost money.”
He adds arenas, like road maintenance, are “a necessity.”