The City of Selkirk will not operate the Selkirk Arena – commonly referred to as The Barn – this winter due to a lack of ice rentals.
The Barn has been in the end-of-life stage for many years and now declining ice rentals and expensive ice plant upgrades have made operating the facility unnecessary and a waste of limited tax dollars.
“There’s been a decrease in demand for ice rental in general and specifically at that facility,” said Brady Clark, Director of Culture, Recreation and Green Transportation.
Decline in demand and needed upgrades makes opening The Barn not feasible
“The ice plant needs significant repairs or even replacement and during last winter when it was open with natural ice for a reduced amount of time, only about 13 hours a week were rented out of an available 40 hours. It’s just not cost effective to operate.”
Groups that had used the Selkirk Arena have been accommodated at the Rec Complex, with just a couple of slots still being worked out. The city is committed to ensuring these users have ice time and is looking at opening earlier on Saturday and Sunday mornings, as other facilities in the region do.
The Arena’s ice plant needed repairs in 2020/21 for it to have artificial ice. However, the Arena did not open due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The repairs were completed in 2021 and the Arena had a delayed opening for the 21/22 season with minimal bookings. Last year, more repairs were required, and the city decided to operate with natural ice and a shortened season. It was open from December to February and building and maintaining ice proved challenging and costly because of fluctuating weather.
Funds reallocated to expand and improve other city services
With the declining demand in ice time in Selkirk and region, and with the Barn’s decommissioning imminent, investing tens of thousands of dollars in repairs or well over a hundred thousand dollars in replacement would not be a prudent use of tax dollars.
The city will reallocate staff and equipment from the Barn to the Selkirk Recreation Complex to expand and improve services in that facility. Even with the reallocation of staff, the city will reduce costs by just over $6,000 this year.
“While it’s a small cost savings, it’s also more efficient for the city to operate one arena and increase the available hours compared to operating two arenas with limited demand,” Clark said.