Council Approves City Arena Recommendations

User groups pack into Sarnia council chambers for a special meeting on the city's Arena Management Strategy April 28, 2014 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

Negotiations will be finalized with Lambton College to acquire and repurpose the second ice pad at the RBC Centre.

It was a packed house as Sarnia Council made decisions on the city’s Arena Management Strategy during a special meeting Monday night.

Council voted 5-4 in favour of the possible sale of RBC #2.

Councillor Bev MacDougall voted against the motion. “It’s our newest arena and is financed for the next 16 years,” MacDougall said.

Councillor Anne-Marie Gillis agreed with her colleague. “I think this is a betrayal to the people of the city of Sarnia if we close RBC #2 and sell it at a fire sale,” Gillis said.

Mayor Mike Bradley broke the tie vote saying it gives the community a chance to evolve and negotiate a fair deal with the college. “I can just say for the record, I was there at the instigation of this building and it is not a betrayal of the city taxpayers,” he said.

Negotiations with the college will be finalized by June 30th this year with project work on a new multi-purpose field house to begin April 1 of 2015.

Staff have been directed to prepare a report analyzing the feasibility of constructing a two pad arena to partner with the existing Clearwater arenas. The new four pad complex would replace Sarnia Arena and Germain Arena by 2020.

Germain Arena will remain open for the 2014-15 ice season and Sarnia Arena will open for May 1, 2015 to allow for summer rentals.

Many user groups were in attendance some with signs saying “I want a place to play!” and “I’ve got $4-million reasons to keep our arenas.”

Sarnia Hockey Association Chairman Mike Johnson said he felt “befuddled” following the meeting.

Johnson says they would have liked to see council defer its decisions until results of a feasibility study were known.