PORT McNEILL—Port McNeill councillors will consider whether to contribute part of the town’s gas-tax funding to aid the Regional District of Mount Waddington with a major upgrade to Chilton Regional Arena.
RDMW directors recently approved in principal the purchase and installation of a new energy-efficient compressor to replace the 35-year-old arena’s aging equipment, using gas-tax funding from the Province.
The board forwarded a letter to Mayor Gerry Furney asking whether Port McNeill would be able to contribute a portion of its own provincial funding toward the upgrade.
“I did explain to Greg Fletcher, the (RDMW) administrator, that we needed a lot more detail on what our own contribution’s going to be, what we would get from the gas tax contribution, and whether something could be allocated for that purpose.”
Furney asked for and received approval to invite Fletcher to a future council meeting to discuss the issue.
Recent Town projects funded by gas-tax revenue include streetside improvements associated with the harbour upgrade and ditch-building at Schoolhouse Creek.
Administrator Albert Sweet said the town has not yet received its 2012 gas-tax contribution and doesn’t expect to receive it from the province until summer.
But at least one councillor felt the arena would be a worthwhile place to use the funds.
“Considering Port McNeill funds 48 per cent of (the arena) service, the other communities that are really hit for the arena are Nimpkish Heights, Hyde Creek and Woss,” said coun. Shirley Ackland, who attended the recent arena users meeting. “So they have the lion’s share of what goes into supporting the arena.
Everyone around the table was in favour of the upgrades.
The arena is used by Port McNeill Minor Hockey, Tri-Port Minor Hockey’s rep program, the Port McNeill Figure Skating Club and various men’s, women’s and co-ed hockey programs.
The facility is also opened to free skating and stick time, and the Image Room upstairs is rented out for parties and other activities.
“Their biggest concern was how soon it could be done, because they’re worried about losing summer ice for figure skating,” said Ackland.
Council agreed to table the RDMW request until Fletcher is able to make his presentation.
Town staff provided council with a draft copy of its Stormwater Management Plan, the completion of which could mean a $66,000 boost from the Ministry of Small Communities’ Towns for Tomorrow Grant.
Port McNeill has already received part of the funding from the grant, which has gone in part to the town’s water system upgrade.
“There’s an additional portion of the grant that they won’t release until we have a stormwater management plan,” town administrator and treasurer Albert Sweet said.
Council agreed to accept the plan and will review it before making a decision on approval.
Council approved the application of Robert Yaschuk to become a member of Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department.
Coun. Gaby Wickstrom asked whether Yaschuk was known in the community, as she was unfamiliar with him.
“Well, we’ve had a recommendation from the first chief,” Mayor Furney responded. “Usually that has been enough for council.”
Yaschuk was approved unanimously.
Coun. Chris Sharpe provided a report from the Harbour Commission, and said members have grown concerned about the drop-off from the edge of the parking lot to the water, which is separated by a nearly vertical brick wall.
“If someone falls in there, even an adult, there’s no way to get out,” said Sharpe.
“Maybe we could look into a ladder system that would allow escape, or allow assistance to get in.”
Furney admitted the drop-off was a hazard and noted it had not previously been brought to council’s attention.
Sharpe said he was willing to meet with public works foreman Glen Boyd at the site to discuss possible fixes, and council gave its approval.
“I think it’s an easy fix,” Sharpe said.