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October 27, 2017 9:07 pm

‘Chill The Oval’ Supporters Get City Support In Bid For Full-Time Freeze

Monday, September 19, 2016 @ 8:20 PM
Members of Outdoor Ice Oval Society and supporters, Society VP Angus McDonald, Gary Schlesinger, Dick Vonuegen, Trevor Nelson, Society Treasurer Chris Peppler 250News photo

Members of Outdoor Ice Oval Society and supporters, Society VP Angus McDonald, Gary Schlesinger, Dick Vonuegen, Trevor Nelson, Society Treasurer Chris Peppler      250News photo

chilltheoval_buttonPrince George, BC – Members of the Outdoor Ice Oval Society received a warm reception from Prince George City Council tonight as they outlined plans to raise an estimated $3.7-million dollars in capital costs to refrigerate the venue.

Prior to the start of tonight’s meeting, Dick Vonuegen was in the lobby selling $5 ‘Chill The Oval’ buttons as part of the Society’s new fundraising effort towards the installation of refrigeration and tubing, a permanent concrete oval surface, drainage and the necessary electrical building. (click here for previous story)

Vonuegen – credited as being the driving force behind the original outdoor oval several decades ago – remains one of the many tireless volunteers keen to see the venue make this next, necessary leap to a more reliable artificial ice surface that will extend the ice skating season in light of recent warm winters and allow off-season recreational uses like in-line skating and biking.

Council has agreed to the group’s request to have the project referred to the City’s unfunded list in the 2018 Five-Year Capital Plan – a move that allows the Society to pursue funding from other levels of government, while also working towards a fundraising goal of $500-thousand dollars.

Councillor Jillian Merrick expressed concern that there are already a number of items on the unfunded list and that the referral might give the group a false sense of ‘maybe it will be funded’.  But Councillor Brian Skakun said given the health and economic benefits of the project, it needs to be on there to see how it ‘stacks up’ to other capital priorities.

Noting the Five-Year Capital Plan includes both funded and unfunded projects, City Manager, Kathleen Soltis said adding the oval refrigeration project would put it on the City’s radar, rate it in terms of priority, and signal to other levels of government that it has merit and is something the city wants to pursue.

OIO Society President, Kathy Lewis, told Councillors provincial and federal representatives expressed support during preliminary discussions, but said the project needed to be on the list to move forward.

With the referral, Mayor Lyn Hall said Council has made its position known and, now, the province and feds have an opportunity to step up to the plate.  He congratulated the Society on taking such an active role in trying to make refrigeration a reality,



Thats good news… Merrick probably worried her pet projects won’t get any funding…ahhahah

That is good news, gets a great deal of use, when there’s ice. Used to be winters here were cold, and real cold. No longer the case every year.

I think it’s a great idea and too bad it wasn’t included with the Canada Winter Games bid – I think that was a missed opportunity. I would support the idea but also wish it was in a much more scenic location as well – rather than stuck in a hole behind the arena’s!

I fully support a project like this.

Its a small amount compared to the costs for other user group activities. I think the upside potential is enormous once we have more certainty in the ice quality. Being able to skate in warmer weather will bring out much more participants.

I think its great for the kids as it gives them more opportunity to learn to skate in a family setting, as the hockey rinks are not always available for drop in skating.

I also like the idea of having a concrete oval for the summer months. This could get a lot of use in the summer then as well.

PG is a northern city, so we should embrace that and not be bush league on a sport so identified with being a Northern city.

    It is not a small amount when compared at a cost per user and at a cost per uses.

    The cost should also include the ongoing cost of maintenance and eventual upgrades – spectator areas, concessions, warming facilities for cold days, etc.

    We have an refrigerated outdoor skating area at the Civic Centre. It hardly got used.

    Kelowna has a wonderful outdoor skating surface across from their City Hall on the lake shore. It has lights and it gets lots of use right into the evenings.

    The ice oval will need some good lighting as well if the use is to be extended. It gets dark very early here. If it is to be built it should also have an ice surface in the centre for regular skating.

      What are you using for a per user number. 150 per day or 8000 per season? Its a big spread as to the true per user number.

      If I went three times, and I am the average, than can we say we are talking about 2500+ ‘unique users’? If the city portion was 1/3rd of the capital cost and it had a ten year amortization than its roughly $10 per use if only the users were paying. If the use of the facility doubles by tripling the days it can be used and all those days are nice warm days… then we are talking about a $5 dollar cost per visit.

      I think it could be argued that there are more unique users of the ice oval than the ice rinks.

      I agree if one is to refrigerate the ice oval, than any plans should include a hockey rink in the middle as well. It would get a lot more use and help make the whole project more viable.

The present rates at the Oval are daily $2.00 per person, and $5.00 per family.

Yearly pass $25.00 per person $60.00 per family.

My guess is that the majority of users are repeaters and I would think that they would go for the annual pass, because then the more you use the facility the less it costs you.

This facility would have difficulty generating any amount of revenue without some hefty increases.

If you went to any sane funding source, they would laugh at the suggestion of loaning this amount, for such a sketchy project. The oval is closed, more than it is open, because of mother nature. Can’t use it when its snowing, raining, too warm, too cold…

We couldn’t use it for the ice man last year, it was raining. It would have to be a covered venue to make an ounce of sense.

The market for the outdoor skating oval is very light, besides a few passionate people who do use the facility.

Hats off to Kathy L and the fabulous crew of supporters and mtnce staff who keep This fabulous recreation amenity going. There is nothing quite like a good outdoor skate on a winter day. While I fully support “chilling the oval” , having it enclosed will certainly change the ambience and the uniqueness of this great facility. But having it available for more use in spite of a warming climate is becoming a reality, and just makes sense. It will add to the long list of excellent outdoor recreation facilities in PG that make our community great.

I think the greater issue is that the oval is mostly used by a select group of athletic types that will want to enure that they have the best skating times and will be able to lock off big time slots to run meets etc. I think someone needs to figure out how to package this proposal into either shared infrastructure with different groups or attaching it to existing systems if available. If you want success in getting your facility funded,it’s probably better to show that this isn’t just about a hundred or so people. With the location next to the arenas, is there any way that they can tie into existing plants? The last play is to build 2 or 3 full size outdoor hockey rinks with lights etc. and tie them into the system. I would bet that there would be 100’s of users playing shinny on the rinks. Maybe hold a large 3 on 3 half ice tournament in order to get people into town spending money which subsidizes the oval.
The other option is to look for used equipment.
My first car was used. I couldn’t afford a new one and as a tax payer, I don’t think I can afford a brand new ice plant.

This is just another example of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Kin 1, Masich Place, bike lanes, Baseball Challenge, etc. Hound Council long enough, or grease enough palms and your special interest group can feed at the public trough as well.

Maybe before the oval receives city funding the Monday ice skating previously run by the Y could be re-instated at the Coliseum. It was popular with moms and tots as well as seniors looking for ice time. Initially Monday ice skating was shutdown with the excuse being the loss of Kin one during the construct for the winter games but once Kin one was back on line the Monday ice skating was never revived.

Jillian is just concerned money would be taken away from her pet bicycles agenda.

Do a 70 grand study for riding studded wheel bicycles on the track. Paint bicycle graffiti all over the track, then she will give her approval and the project can then go ahead.

I just read the item regarding Merrick. Does she excuse herself from council voting when they are on the subject of bike lanes etc? She is the president of the local bike club. If she’s voting then she’s conflicted.
Just wondering.

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