New arena game plan

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY AN­GELA BROWN

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.

En­ergy sav­ings

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.”

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