By Andrew Mendler
The life of the Dick Ellis Rink has been extended, but only until the end of this hockey season.
“Every municipality that has built new rinks goes through the process of cutting the umbilical cord with old rinks,” said Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis to council.
On Monday, city council voted against the motion to shut down the arena once the new Quinte Sport and Wellness Center is fully operational.
Ellis voted to keep the Dick Ellis running only if council agreed to have the rink shut down at the end of this season.
“Once the ice comes out, it doesn’t go back in, said Ellis. “The (rink) will no longer be used as an ice pad.”
Council said they would have to re-look at the arena in the future to see if the building could be repurposed for other uses.
Money was the main issue for the decision as Mark Fluhrer, director of recreation, stated the city would lose roughly $27,000 a month to keep the Dick Ellis arena in operation.
Ellis said that running all five arenas (Wally Dever, Yardmen, two new pads and the Dick Ellis) would cost the city $1.5 million.
“We didn’t create a 35 million dollar project because we needed a new ice pad,” said Fluhrer. “We developed new rinks to raise our level of service.
Councilor Taso Christopher was against the idea of keeping the Dick Ellis running stating that registration in minor hockey has “flat-lined”. He believes that the city can’t afford to run five ice-pads and feels they need to stick to their business plan.
“The business plan that we put forth to the user groups, council and the tax payers was a business model to identify four ice pads,” said Christopher. “In order to make that business model work and be successful we have to close the two other ice pads, the Dick Ellis and the Memorial.”
The memorial was temporarily shut down last December when the refrigeration system failed and caused flooding on the arena’s floor. Since then, the arena has yet to be used and fate of the building is still being decided.