A stunning donation by the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association (PRMHA) has enabled the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre to acquire a new Zamboni, something the rink was in dire need of after Prince Rupert’s existing ice resurfacing machines broke down last season.
“The amount of appreciation this city owes minor hockey is phenomenal and everybody who’s a skater is going to be able to skate this year because of what they’ve done,” said Brent Meunier, City of Prince Rupert recreation consultant.
After its eight-year-old Olympia Ice Bear resurfacer broke down multiple times within the past few years, and its other 23-year-old Zamboni 520 on its last legs, the City approached PRMHA to inquire about assisting in the purchase of a new one after spending more than $75,000 in repairs to fix the Ice Bear.
“We spent over half the cost of a new machine on repairs throughout those eight years and we decided in talking to staff that there was no point in spending any more money on that if we could avoid it,” said Meunier.
The PRMHA brought the proposal back to its annual general meeting and reportedly voted unanimously to purchase a new ice-resurfacing machine for the city at a cost of approximately $120,000. The machine would be owned by PRMHA in name and loaned to the city on a 25-year basis, or until the life of the machine deteriorates completely, which Meunier expects to be around the same amount of time. The City would pay a $10 loan fee per year for legal purposes.
“To my knowledge, there is no other minor hockey organization in Canada, or the United States for that matter has ever bought a Zamboni for the municipality or has the capacity to,” said the consultant.
The PRMHA may use its funds from various grants and program registration costs to financially support the purchase, and will release a detailed document concerning the purchase later this week.
“We were ecstatic because I was concerned,” said Meunier.
“We were talking to other organizations and businesses about trying to pitch in for the Zamboni, so now we’re able to talk to those organizations about the possibility of a number of other things because our rec centre needs a whole lot of updates and repairs.”
To be in a better position to deal with similar upgrades and undertakings in the future, Meunier has helped draft a recreation commission to serve as an advisory voice to Council.
The commission will try to establish a reserve fund by investing approximately 10-20 per cent of annual facility revenues to help pay for upgrades.
“We need to be doing more fundraising. If we continue to increase [fees] to get more capital monies to work with, we start to turn our facilities into private clubs being subsidized by taxpayers. That’s not a direction that we want to go in,” he said.