The heartbeat of many Canadian communities is often found in the local ice rink.
Kids learn how to skate, pick up a hockey stick or figure skates and hit the ice for hours on end throughout childhood.
In Squamish’s case, the heartbeat is close to a flat line thanks to the underfunded and neglected Brennan Park Arena.
Don’t get me wrong. It was a state-of-the-art facility… in 1977.
The rink hasn’t been upgraded other than required maintenance and building code violations since it was first erected and the results are pretty embarrassing.
The arena’s dressing rooms are slightly bigger than my bathroom at home and without one of those trendy looking sinks. In fact, they’re so small that back when the Wolf Pack played in Squamish, the team was forced to use a trailer outside the arena as a change room. Quite frankly, the dressing rooms weren’t up to Junior B standard, which just isn’t good enough.
It’s why the story in this week’s paper about ice users being shut out by the recreation plan has me shaking my head.
But it’s not just hockey fans and players that are impacted by the lacklustre arena. It’s also the Squamish Skating Club, the roller derby and lacrosse. Those three organizations would benefit a great deal from an improved Brennan Park Arena or a second sheet of ice in town.
Not only that, but a better arena would be able to host community events like concerts, plays and even graduation more effectively. I know I wasn’t the only one thinking there has to be a better way after being stuffed like sardines inside the arena and the lobby during this past summer’s ceremony.
Back in 2005, a professional polling firm determined that two out of three Squamish residents supported the construction of a second arena to be used for Paralympic sledge hockey for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Of course, we all know Squamish got burned on that deal, but I still think the interest is there. We don’t need the 2,500-seat arena that was suggested back then, but perhaps a few upgrades to Brennan Park and a practice rink to give groups more available ice time would work.
According to the Lees and Associates recreation survey, ice sports ranked fourth most popular for kids’ activities and seventh for adults and even higher when you take out the sports like skiing and snowboarding that you can’t do locally.
With a growing population, full of young families with children, it only make sense to put back a little bit of money into a facility that could have so many uses for Squamish.
Brennan Park needs a little love before that heartbeat I mentioned earlier turns into a massive stroke for the entire community.