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Prince George to reopen Kin Arenas while closing three other public ice rinks

City council made the decision Monday night (July 27) in response to COVID-19

There will be one Prince George arena that'll be open for the fall as COVID-19 continues.

Tonight (July 27), city council decided to keep the Kin Arenas open, but are closing the CN Centre, Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA) and Elksentre for the rest of 2020 to help offset this year's budget shortfall projected by the pandemic.

All three sheets in the Kin Arenas will be open for user groups effect Aug. 17.

Phase Three of B.C.'s COVID-19 restart plan indicates no game-play for sport while a vaccine hasn't been produced, but skills training will be allowed with physical-distancing measures in place.

The decisions, both of which were carried unanimously by city councillors, comes two weeks after the city announced the indefinite closure of all four public arenas.

As a result, the city is likely to save roughly $630,000 by keeping the CN Centre, RMCA and Elksentre closed for the next five months.

"I will support keeping them closed for this time, but with the expectation that things can change during the remainder of the year," said Coun. Kyle Sampson during deliberation, noting that the decisions could come back to council depending on a variety of factors related to COVID-19 and provincial health orders.  

Tentatively, the WHL and Prince George Cougars are scheduled to start the 2020-21 season on Oct. 2, while the BCHL and Prince George Spruce KIings are set to start Dec. 1.

Coun. Brian Skakun asked what will happen to the two biggest tenants of the closed facilities, the Cougars and the Spruce Kings. 

"This really comes down to what BCHL and WHL allow under the provincial health orders," said Adam Davey, director of community services, who prepared the Indoor Facility Closure report for council. 

"This whole report assumes we are under Phase 3 so to be very clear there’s no hockey being played in phase three as we understand it. It’s practicing and skills and drills so if the BCHL and WHL were able to come back we are no longer in Phase 3 as we know it."

Davey also noted that the three sheets of ice on the Kin Centre's are run by the same large ice plant, which makes it efficient to operate all three Kin Centres at once. 

As noted in his report, Davey the cost recovery for the three Kin Centre's would be 37 per cent with the remaining 63 per cent subsidized by the city and offset by taxpayer dollars. That’s roughly double the amount needed to make up expenses in 2019, which only required a 33 per cent subsidy.

"It does make the challenge of the 2021 tax levy greater but there’s no wrong answer here it’s just a matter of how we can pay for it and as long as we can figure that out we are good," said Davey regarding the reopening of Kin Centres. 

"Even though we are opening three sheets of ice it’s not going to be the same as before," noted Coun. McConnachie, referencing the COVID-19 protocols that staff will have to implement. 

"Just as a reminder to folks be kind to the frontline staff that are tasked with enforcing them whether that be the pool or anywhere you go on city property. They are following the directions of Dr. Bonnie Henry or the will of council so just be kind to those folks doing their jobs." 

Council also decided to close the Conference and Civic Centre, as well as the Four Seasons Pool, for the remainder of 2020.

The Aquatic Centre, however, will be reopening during Phase Three with a date yet to be determined.

- with files from Kyle Balzer, PrinceGeorgeMatters