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