News

Kelowna mayor's letter sets off political firestorm in Ontario city

Kelowna’s mayor has inadvertently helped fuel a political firestorm in a city on the other side of the country.

In response to a request for information from people in Belleville, Ont., about how Kelowna has kept its Memorial Arena open, while having a modern facility, Prospera Place, operate in its city, Gray recently wrote a letter explaining how important the city considers its old arena.

“It is a significant representation of postwar community efforts to commemorate lost soldiers, build community pride and construct new recreational facilities,” said Gray in the letter.

“It is valued for its association with the importance of local organized hockey leagues in Kelowna and for its continuous use as a hockey venue.”

In Belleville, where that community’s Memorial Arena has been closed for three years, the letter has raised the ire of the mayor, who saw Gray’s comments as political interference, especially in this, an election year.

And the Ontario mayor was not shy about telling Gray exactly how he felt.

According to Gray, Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis called him Tuesday and was very angry.

While some in Belleville want the city to re-open its old arena, the city says it does not have the money to pay for the extensive renovations required.

In his letter, Gray explained how Kelowna’s 2004 renovations to Memorial Arena not only were important from a preservation of an historic building perspective, but it also allowed the city to defer building a new city-owned arena for at least 10 years.

It appears it was Gray’s call for Belleville to “preserve this rich and vibrant piece of history for the benefit of future generations and as a testament to the past,” that sparked the most controversy.

And Gray’s suggestion that Belleville consider a public-private partnership as a possible solution didn’t help, either.

Ellis reportedly told Gray his council has more important spending priorities than its old arena.

Gray went on radio in Belleville and was interviewed by the newspaper there explaining his letter was not an attempt at political interference.

He apologized if offence was taken.

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Steele: Aquatic centre garden showcased
 
Peachland set to walk for dog guides
 
Okanagan artist showing in Coors Western Art Exhibition
COLUMN: Twin Peaks’ Kootenay/Boundary connections
 
Relive the David Thompson brigade this weekend in Rossland
 
Missing Andrew Evans
Skills upgrading for emergency responders
 
American trucker nabbed at Osoyoos border crossing with child porn
 
Transportation Minister revs up B.C. speed limit reform debate

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 17 edition online now. Browse the archives.