More downtown arena support

(Brockville Museum curator Natalie Wood, in pink, rollerskates her way through a comic segment of a recent Pink Pills for Pale People presentation. I'll have to apologize to her for reviving this pic, but she'll find it easier to skate if her idea bears fruit...)

A museum inside an arena?


It would appear my desire for a real discussion about the possibility of a downtown arena and the implications of same for the main core's future will be satisfied.

City councillors will vote Tuesday on a motion to include the downtown in any discussion of the future site for a twin-pad arena.

Interestingly, while the talk at this past Tuesday's planning committee meeting included the naming of two specific sites (Leon's and Phillips Cables), the resolution heading to the council table is more vague: “That the Brockville Memorial Centre lands in addition to location(s) in downtown Brockville be considered for the new ice pad.”

This may be a recognition that the two previously mentioned sites include one occupied by a store that is not moving anytime soon, while the other is the intended site of a future neighbourhood.

Regardless, the motion calls on the downtown to be considered, with “approximate costs, benefits and challenges” coming back to council in a report.

Presumably, such a report would first have to nail down a specific downtown site.

It is difficult to imagine councillors saying no, since those who oppose the higher costs of a downtown site will find all the ammunition they need in that forthcoming report.

Meanwhile, next Tuesday's agenda includes two letters of support for a downtown twin-pad arena.

One, by Brockville Museum curator and director Natalie Wood, even suggests the Brockville Museum could move into an eventual downtown arena.

We believe that the viability of a downtown arena (lies) in the potential to make it a true multi- purpose facility that will attract tourists and meet the needs of residents,” she writes.

One such example might include the museum: The museum will need to expand or relocate as our collection grows beyond the capacity of our exciting facilities, and as condo developments proceed around us; one consideration might be that the museum could be added to the site of a new downtown arena, putting more city amenities under one roof (and reducing the costs of two distinct builds).

There would, of course, need to be much discussion on the feasibility and logistics of such a proposal, but we believe it is this kind of creative and innovative approach that might make a downtown arena more viable financially. This is also the kind of innovative thinking that granting bodies like to see.”

Innovative, for sure. And interesting.

While it may be a bit of a stretch to think hockey parents and hockey players might stop to gaze at the old Brockville Briscoe, or the great Fulford's Pink Pills for Pale People, before or after a practice, the idea of consolidating sports and culture under the same roof is worth discussing.

Sports and culture are both among those intangible quality-of-life benefits municipal governments subsidize for the betterment of all. Why not have them in the same place?

Let's park that thought for now and give it a deeper think when the analysis begins in earnest.

The second letter of support comes from the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce, which reiterates an argument made this week by Councillor David LeSueur.

With the closure of the Quality Inn earlier this year, the consideration of an arena in the Downtown, just west of the city, may encourage a future hotel developer to come forward to build a downtown hotel,” reads the letter by chamber executive director Pam Robertson.

There would have to be a few more steps between the arena and the hotel, of course, but the downtown influx has to begin somewhere.

For now, one welcomes the fact ideas are springing up from all sides.