Ice arena a concern in Squamish 

Concrete ice slab at risk of heaving, cutting skating season short

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The ice arena at Brennan Park is showing its age. Squamish Council was asked to consider shortening the length of the ice season at the district's recreation centre as part of an initiative to extend the life of the slab that holds the ice. According to an engineering report the concrete will need to be replaced within the next four to five years.

"Our only rink is 35 years old," Tim Hoskin, director of recreation, told Squamish council at a June 25 Committee of the Whole meeting. "The typical lifespan of the concrete slab is approximately 25 years."

With the arena a decade over its expected lifespan there is no replacement fund and the current five-year financial plan only has money budgeted for replacement planning. District of Squamish (DOS) staff report it's just a matter of time before frost heaving ruins the concrete slab.

Hoskin suggested that cutting the ice season from 8.5 months down to 7.5 could help to extend the life of the slab. For the 8.5 months the ice is in place the arena runs at capacity during prime time hours, from the middle of August to the end of April.

Derek Cranfield, the president of Squamish Minor Hockey, said the hockey program in Squamish was revamped this season to strengthen the spring program.

"From 5:30 in the morning until 11 p.m. at night that ice is filled," said Cranfield of the arena's winter.

To maximize the ice use he noted that 100 minor hockey players took part in the spring 2012 hockey program and more are expected to make use of the program next year.

According to Councillor Doug Race, the question facing the council members is whether the slab should be replaced or a new arena should be constructed. Replacing the slab is expected to cost $1.2 million and would take a year, including project planning. The cost of replacing the entire arena would be much higher.

The council members voted to maintain the traditional ice schedule and hope the system doesn't fail while planning is underway to determine if Squamish residents want a new arena.

District of Squamish releases SOFI

Squamish residents now have a clear understanding of how much it costs to operate the community's municipal hall. The annual Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) was released last month followed by a report on the 2012 remuneration, benefits and expenses paid to the members of Squamish Council.

"The municipality is required to provide a Statement of Financial Information by June 30 each year to be in compliance with the Financial Information Act," Robin Arthurs said to council members.

The SOFI reveals that just over $10 million was paid to District or Squamish (DOS) staff in salary and taxable benefits. That figure in 2011 was $9.7 million. An additional $123,905 was spent in 2012 to cover staff expenses from costs incurred attending things like meetings, courses and seminars.

The highest paid employee in 2013 was Squamish's general manager of corporate services. Robin Arthurs was paid $122,864 with a portion of her 2012 employment spent filling the role of acting chief administrative Officer. Joanne Greenlees, the general manager of financial services was paid $122,507.

The chief administrative officer (CAO) is usually the highest paid person on the DOS staff but Corien Speaker started her job midway through the fiscal year. Her salary totaled $76,307 in 2012. She also had the greatest expense amount at $8,263. Former CAO Kevin Ramsay was paid $80,368 for the portion of 2012 that he worked for the DOS.

Between Ramsay and Speaker more than $156,000 was paid to the top municipal manager in Squamish. In 2011, Ramsay was paid $170,000.

As a comparison, Whistler CAO Mike Furey was paid $200,000 in 2012.

Linda Glenday, the general manager of development services, engineering and operations received $116,313.

The other DOS employees who earned more than $100,000 in 2012 were Fire Chief Russ Inouye, along with Assistant Fire Chief Bob Fulton, Recreation Director Tim Hoskin and firefighter Sean Sweeney.

A total of 31 DOS employees collected salaries of $75,000 or more in 2012. A total of $2.8 million was paid in salary and taxable benefits to that group of 31 people.

The mayor, Rob Kirkham, was paid $63,889 with a further $5,658 spent on benefits, and he claimed $5,715 in expenses. Pay for councillors ranged from $28,919 for Patricia Heintzman to $28,565 paid to Susan Chapelle.

Doug Race claimed only $2,068 in benefit costs while Chapelle, Ron Sander, Bryan Raiser and Ted Prior all collected $4,679 in benefits. The councillors each claimed expenses between $2,450 and $5,656 for the year.

The elected leaders in Squamish were paid salaries that totaled just over $240,000.


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