dietsch - mike may 22Mike Dietsch leads the discussion Wednesday night, as Kenora looks at twinning the rink.

Kenora's new event centre could bring lots of attractions to the city, and a new ice surface would be a key component. However, last night's meeting at the rec centre is likely just the start of a long process.

If successful, the midsummer night's dream could take more than a year to realize. The committee's co-chair, Mike Dietsch, says they hope to complete the process before the next municipal election. That would be in 2014. Still, last night's audience was asked some key questions, such as what they would like the new arena complex to look like, as well as how they think it should be financed.

While hockey fans in the community have been looking for a second ice surface for many years, it remains to be seen how many residents are willing to foot the bill -- either through fundraising or tax increases -- in order to cover the bill. According to city staff, it could cost between $9 million and $12 million to add the second ice surface.

Regardless, Jack Martin was one of the group facilitators asked to lead discussions on the topic last night, and he says he was encouraged by the input from participants.

"There were some great ideas. I just did the one group, but people have real visions and hopes," he said.

One easy answer would be to dip into the city's Prosperity Fund, created following the sale of KMTS. However, councillors have been reluctant to dip into their rainy-day fund.

At the end of the night, the chairs at the rec centre on the arena floor were still more than half-full. Many in the crowd had clear ties to hockey, where the need for more ice time is apparent. One of the supporters for the new ice surface is Derian Caron.

"I was really impressed with the turnout," he said. "It was nice to see there were so many people to help get this thing going."

Still, the price tag for both construction and the ongoing operation of the facility is reason for pause for many ratepayers. This is especially true at a time in the northwest, at a time when there's more and more pressure on property taxpayers in communities still recovering from the forestry crisis.

For more information:
Twinning the rink on tonight's agenda
Public asked for input on rec centre

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