Kenora councillors and city staff are trying to work with supporters, but Mayor Dave Canfield says they're not quite ready to move ahead with twinning the rec centre rink.

"The concerns are very founded," he said, noting the issues raised by councillors during debate.

Coun. Mort Goss noted the city only had revenues of about $230,000 on operating costs of about $1 million last year for the rec centre ice surface. This means ratepayers paid more than 75 per cent of the operating cost.

The city's goal is to have teams pay about 55 per cent of ice time for youth, and about 65 per cent of the ice time for adults. Goss didn't see that percentage improving, if a new rink surface was added.

Coun. Sharon Smith defended the existing Keewatin Arena, which is also attached to the Keewatin Curling Club, and Louis Roussin expressed similar concerns with revenues. Roussin made reference to the high water rates to help pay for maintenance, as well as the millions in road and sewer work

Still, councillors didn't want to discourage supporters and planners from coming back with updates on their figures for council

"It gives the planning committee and the people that are working on this the opportunity to go working for that private sector and the other developers," the mayor said, after the debate.

Since before the last election, the mayor has suggested the event centre project -- as it's also been called -- would be helped by partnerships from the private sector. It's worth noting the city has paid for upgrades at the Keewatin Arena, and there have been upgrades to the auditorium at Seven Generations, where events are now being hosted.

The mayor seemed to leave the door open for supporting the resolution to approve $250,000 of city money, in order to help get a good set of plans and a more accurate budget estimate, but he was still very cautious.

"You know, the t's have gotta be crossed and the i's have gotta be dotted. There's a lot of work that's gotta be done to make sure we're at that level we can access that funding," he noted.

Next week, council will be voting on a resolution. In it, the city's being asked to put up $250,000 towards plans for the project. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund would be asked for another $500,000 towards the project.

An early estimate put the cost of the project at about $30 million. Another estimate using a more phased-in approach was explored, along with a facility that might use fabric -- similar to the Whitecap Pavilion -- instead of bricks and mortar. Supporters of the project didn't provide a final number.

For more information:

Kenora's event centre could be phased in

$30 million event centre a tough sell at city hall

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