Ridgetown arena. December 18, 2017. (Photo by Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

CK arenas getting lower ice rates

Starting in September, lower ice rates will be coming to the municipality for a trial period.

On Monday night, council approved an Arena Business Plan that includes strategic ways to help improve declining arena usage in Chatham-Kent.

Rates for prime ice time will go from $204 to $173 plus HST while non-prime and minor hourly ice rental rates would drop from $163 to $152. It will be effective for a two year trial period starting in September 2019. Ice time that has not been previously booked but has regularly scheduled staff available will also now be sold at a rate of $100 per hour plus HST.

Now that the plan has been approved, prime ice rate times will change to 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Monday through Friday instead of the previous hours of 4 p.m. until midnight. Saturday and Sunday prime ice times will be all day on until 11 p.m., an hour shorter than what it was previously.

Councillor Doug Sulman made a successful amendment that would require council to have administration staff prepare a report for the first council meetings of the year in 2020 and 2021. The report will detail whether or not ice usage has increased as a result of the lower ice rates.

“It would good for us to know at the end of the first year of the cycle whether it’s really having an impact. We should know at the second year of the cycle, we should have a more fulsome report that says ‘okay what are we going to do?'” he said. “When we get the stats we should actually use the stats to make a decision.”

The rate reduction was designed to compete with costs in neighbouring cities. A maximum of $242,711 each year would be pulled from the Council Strategic Reserve to make up for the decrease in ice fees.

Staff also indicated that bringing more programing into the arenas is another issue that is on their radar.

“There are partnership opportunities with recreational programs,” said Jeff Bray, manager of parks and open spaces. “We have reached out to them and I think that’s a future discussion. Especially when the ice is out. [In the past] I think there were programs that did move into the arena. So I think that’s something we’re definitely going to follow up on.”

The motion to approve the Arena Business Plan passed unanimously.