CORNER BROOK The rally against a prospective rate hike at the Pepsi Centre filled city square in Corner Brook, and saw young hockey players walking West Street seeking signatures for their petition.
Corner Brook Mayor Neville Greeley was among more than 100 people in front of city hall at noon Tuesday. Many of the people involved with the group of concerned users have said the city should be more directly involved in the operation of the Pepsi Centre.
Greeley said the city is involved. There is a city representative serving on the board of Western Sports and Entertainment — the body that runs the facility — and contributes an $850,000 annual operating grant.
He called it ironic that the demonstration was being held in front of city hall. While many in attendance were from Corner Brook, he said others live in outlying communities.
Council and staff are aware of the issues, according to the mayor, but communities outside the city are either unaware or have not shown a willingness to pay a share of the operating expenses for the regional facility.
“They are living in a neighbouring municipality, and that municipality is not obliged to provide any service for them because they can take advantage of the fact the Pepsi Centre is there and the subsidy is being provided 100 per cent by the citizens of Corner Brook,” Greeley said. “That’s a debate they really need to be having in their own communities as well, and lobbying their communities.”
He suggested rallies should be held in other municipalities.
With municipal elections looming, the Corner Brook mayor believes this is a partnership agreement that needs to be discussed by the new councils.
Western Sports and Entertainment is discussing ways to help balance its books following a $150,000 shortfall in revenue last year.
A prospective 15 per cent rate hike in ice rentals is one of the avenues being discussed to increase revenue. A concerned users group was formed when notifications were provided to them of the possibility of the increase. They have been opposing the increase, and are circulating a petition.
Tuesday at the rally, Greeley was joined by the remainder of council members — with the exception of deputy mayor Donna Luther, who said she was working and unable to attend — and a number of the council candidates.
Coun. Priscilla Boutcher told The Western Star there needs to be more revenue generated at the facility, but she also said there is a need for more regional support.
Coun. Gary Kelly took to Twitter following the rally also saying the regional facility requires regional support.
Donna Francis also tweeted that she attended the rally and commented they have valid concerns.
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