Friday, October 10, 1997
Grand plans threaten progress
The spirited discussion going on about the proposed arena is long overdue.
From the story in today's Yellowknifer, it appears that the present ice facilities - Gerry Murphy and Yellowknife Arena - are running at near capacity.
With the aging Gerry Murphy ripe for demolition, there is absolutely no question Yellowknife is going to need another ice surface.
The only question is: How much ice surface do we need and how much are we willing to pay?
Local businessman and community booster Ter Hamer has been on a two decade long crusade to get such an arena built. In 1996, he proposed a $3.5 million project. Fearful his aggressive involvement would torpedo the idea, Hamer backed off and others took up the cause.
Then the city got in the act, picked a favored location and threw open the doors to public consultation. Now the figure for a proposed twin pad arena, including a myriad of bells and whistles, is at $10 million and promises to climb higher unless saner minds prevail. The proposed site of Twin Pine Hill is burdened with land claim complications.
While Hamer has been sticking to the issue of more ice surface for more kids, the user groups are clamoring for the best facility money can buy, which is as understandable as it is impractical.
The problem with the grand $10-million plan is that it makes a great target for politicians campaigning on fiscal restraint, not to mention the fact Yellowknife ratepayers would balk at such a price.
Hamer is right -- Yellowknife needs a new arena. He prefers the Twin Pine Hill site but in the interests of moving ahead, says lets look at other sites.
We agree with Hamer and we also think the earlier $3 to $6 million price range should be revisited.
Pushing for the best is fine in competition. In this instance, the sports community should be pushing for what it needs and ratepayers can afford.
Yellowknifers and Run for the Cure organizers should be congratulated for a job well done and an astounding amount of money raised ($90,176) in an exceptionally worthy cause -- breast cancer research.
But that's what happens when an organization gets dedicated volunteers on-side and runs what has amounted to the longest and smoothest charity campaign Yellowknife has seen in a long time.
While this is only the second time in as many years Run for the Cure has taken place, it looks like it just may be with us for a few more successful years to come.
Let's hope that the money, in addition to other money raised across Canada, can go a long way to helping detect, treat and cure a disease that has such an awful impact on many of us in the North and across the nation.