Council will be involved in arena decisions: Mayor
A war of words over the future use of the arena at Western Financial Place came to a head at the City of Cranbrook council meeting last night (June 10).
At the heart of it are two press releases. One was issued by a local group headed by Colin Sinclair and Kevin Epp, stating it was denied a sub-lease to bring junior B hockey to Western Financial Place this fall and the city’s responding media release.
(Editor’s note: e-KNOW did not receive the media release from the group seeking to bring a team to town, but we did publish the city’s response. See the group’s full release below and the city’s release is also linked just below.)
Coun. Norma Blissett brought up the matter at the conclusion of Monday night’s council meeting, wondering if council will have any say in what will occur with the arena.
“I’ve been reading the paper and it’s been a little tough. I read our press release and in it, it was talking about the negotiations that had happened with hockey. From the city it said, “That the city must follow strict governance to acquire council approvals where land disposition is required, including the lease of our arena spaces as per the Local Government Act and the Community Charter. So that to me indicates that this has to come before council,” Blissett began.
“And then I find out in reading a report in the (Cranbrook) Townsman website that city officials have been meeting with a group of people who had a proposal to bring a hockey team to town and that group had made a decision not to have this team come to town without consulting council. And a comment was made that city council had no relevant influence on this.
“I find those two things contradictory,” she said, asking Mayor Lee Pratt for comments for the public and council.
Pratt opened by stating “the article in the Townsman had a lot of mis-truths in it,” noting the reporter didn’t speak with the city “before releasing that article. So there was a lot of mis-truth in that. The comment that was made that council does not have any position in it is totally false because we’ve been talking all along about what’s been going with that Kootenay ICE lease and the fact that we have been talking to interested parties about setting up a hockey team here and Leisure Services have been looking at what’s best, what’s going on with the lease and where we’re at; we’re negotiating, our lawyers – it’s in the legal hands right now.
“As far as the council goes, it will come to council when there is a deal in place with somebody – it will come to council for approval, just like any lease we have – so council will be involved at that time. The actual establishment of the lease is not a council decision because we do not know the intricacies of the operations of Western Financial Place. We’re not privy to all the details and the information of, number one, the Kootenay ICE lease that was in place or any proposals that have been made to the city, we’re not privy to that information so it’s not within us to make that decision. That’s an operations decision by Leisure Services and the article says that Mayor Pratt is going to make that decision and it is totally false – I’ll go public with that right now,” he said.
“And I see some individuals in the crowd this evening that wrote a letter and were part of that whole deal and I can tell you that there is a lot of mis-truth there. I’ve taken a lot of flak on it; I’ve been beat up on social media by people (who) do not know anything about the whole story and what’s going on and to be honest with you, I am fed up with it, too. But I am just telling you right now this will be resolved and at the end of the day it’ll be done for what is best for the majority of the citizens of Cranbrook, for what is best for Western Financial Place and the long-term sustainability of the arena,” Pratt stated.
“It’s not going to be based on a few individuals that have an idea of making money on a hockey team or whatever, it will be based on a questionnaire that Paul Heywood (Leisure Services director) put out and we will take it from there,” he said, suggesting to the members of the press in attendance, “if you want to print anything in regards to that then I would suggest you get in touch with Mr. Heywood or Mr. (David) Kim (CAO) or myself before you start printing stuff that’s not true,” he concluded.