Dysart and Highlands East beneficiaries of S.G. Nesbitt closure

By Darren Lum

Staff reporter

The demolition of the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden this past winter has provided a boon to arena bookings in neighbouring Dysart and Highlands East this winter.

As residents of Minden await the completion of the multi-million dollar facility with an NHL-sized rink workout room and gym the public and clubs have turned to alternative facilities in the neighbouring municipalities to book private parties and skating related events.

Dysart Township recreation coordinator Andrea Mueller said there has been a definite increase in the amount of bookings for the A.J. LaRue Arena since the work began in Minden.

Exact figures were not known she said as she has only started tracking with a new system February last year which does not provide an accurate representation.

“We looked at the groups that we gained from Minden during the temporary closure of the Minden arena which has resulted in at least 255 hours of being booked that these groups did not use last year” she wrote.

She added the additional hours don’t account for the increased ice time requested by the Highland Storm minor hockey league up an estimated “20 to 30 per cent.”

The increase could be more she said if there was more evening ice time available.

Although the construction of the Minden arena has attributed to the uptick there have been other factors Mueller said.

“We have had increases in private rentals for family/friend groups which I think is attributed to more awareness of ways to book the ice and the ability to book the ice on line. We have also had a big uptake in sponsored public skates something that we will continue to promote!” she said.

Out in Highlands East the Keith Tallman Memorial Arena in Wilberforce has enjoyed close to a 50 per cent increase in usage for its facility from a similar period this year compared to last year.

The township’s CAO and treasurer Shannon Hunter said this is the greatest increase she has seen the last five years she has worked at her position.

“It provided an excellent source of revenue for our arena during this time and an economic benefit for [bringing] people into the community” she said.

Deputy CAO and treasurer Brittany McCaw said from October to December in 2018 the usage for the Keith Tallman Memorial Arena was 271.5 hours and jumped to 446.5 hours during the period from mid-September (earlier opening) to December of this year. This translates to close to $5000 more in revenue.

The added revenue McCaw said will help to offset expenditures for the arena which provides ice for hockey family and public skating birthday events and figure skating.