DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: The Ops Community Centre arena space could be changed to offer different recreational services to the community.
At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, April 6th, councillors voted to have city staff, “initiate a feasibility review of repurposing the former arena facility space for other community recreational uses, including cost estimates, and report back to Council.” The report is expected to come forward to council sometime in the third quarter of this year.
In November, Kawartha Lakes council decided not to reopen the Ops Arena Facility and have staff look at other facility options. “To re-establish the arena use would still require extensive maintenance, repairs and upgrades, and could not be accomplished in 2021,” read a report from CAO Ron Taylor.
Councillors heard from Dennis Callaghan and Karen Lynch from the Committee to Rebuild the Ops Community Centre during the April 6th meeting.
“The Ops Community Centre is a landmark in our community, and I personally think we should do what we can to rebuild it for future generations,” Ms. Lynch said.
She stated the committee has had over 1,300 people sign a petition to keep the local community centre facility open.
“The support we’ve had is more than overwhelming,” Ms. Lynch said, adding responses are still coming in. Mr. Callaghan explained the role the facility plays in the local community.
“The Community Centre has played a crucial role in developing our next generations,” he said. “It may be a dedicated coach, teaching our youth how to work as a team, or maybe a team giving back to the community by donating funds to a local charity.” Mayor Andy Letham questioned if the committee would be okay with having the arena facility repurposed for other sports or activities instead.
“If it gets repurposed, that is okay. It is not ideally what we want, but it is a community centre we [most] want there,” Mr. Callaghan responded.
Council then discussed a motion on the utilization of the facility going forward.
“I recognize it won’t be an arena in the future, and I can accept that. But it is still a community centre, and it is still close to an awful lot of people’s hearts. I think it can be a thriving hub of activity if we open our minds and look at a way to utilize it,” Ward 5 Councillor Pat Dunn said.
Mayor Letham supported the motion to refurbish the repurposed facility.
“The needs of our community are changing, and personally, to be frank, if we’re not trying to meet the needs of our community as it changes, we’re not really doing our job,” he explained.