West Kelowna has ‘a lot of need’ for Hockeyville money

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater says that several upgrades need to be made at both Jim Lind Arena and Royal LePage Place.

All six West Kelowna councillors focus on voting for West Kelowna to become Kraft Hockeyville 2012. The council members headed straight to the Hockeyville voting centre after Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting.

Although the winner of Kraft Hockeyville 2012 has yet to be named, participating has been worth West Kelowna’s while.

Hockeyville co-chairs Adam Less and Andrew Deans have been quick to highlight the non-financial benefits, pointing at high levels of community spirit and the unifying factor of the competition.

But the cash isn’t bad, either.

West Kelowna has a reasonable shot at winning the whole competition, which would produce $100,000 for arena upgrades. On top of that, the Westside would host an NHL preseason game this fall while soaking up all the national recognition that comes with the Hockeyville title.

Even if the municipality doesn’t outvote the four other Canadian communities in the finals, it has already earned a minimum of $25,000 for arena upgrades for making the top five.

Although most have supported the community’s bid in the campaign, some have questioned West Kelowna’s need for arena upgrades compared to other communities in the competition.

But West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater didn’t hesitate when asked to think of possible uses for the money.

“There have been some saying ‘No, we don’t need it,’ but really there’s a lot of need there to really help this facility reach its full capacity. Neither arena is completely adequate,” said Findlater, speaking about both Royal LePage Place and Jim Lind Arena.

He said that the District of West Kelowna council is aware of over $1 million in upgrades that are necessary for both arenas.

Findlater said several aspects of Royal LePage—such as washrooms and concessions—were made to service an arena with 500 seats: Royal LePage has 1,500.

“On the other hand, Jim Lind is in tough shape. It’s a 30 to 35-year-old arena. The floor under the ice, the piping infrastructure and so on all has a shelf life. It’s approaching the end of (that) shelf life.

“We know that has to be fixed or the whole thing could fail on us.”

Findlater said he would also like to see new boards put in at Jim Lind Arena, in the same configuration as the boards at Royal LePage Place. He noted that if this were done, the district’s dry floor would work properly in either arena.

“(We) could really turn it into a tournament centre if we make it so we can put the dry floor in the other arena.”

The mayor said that no official decision has been made yet as to where the Hockeyville prize money will go.

“We (will) sit down with the Hockeyville (organizers) who have taken the initiative and see where their thoughts are—it’s a bit early to decide that.”

Findlater is still hopeful that West Kelowna will take home the grand prize and said he contributed “a couple thousand votes” of his own to help the cause.