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BEHIND THE SCENES: Thorold City Council questions Canada Games Park management

ThoroldToday editor Bernard Lansbergen takes us behind the scenes

Thorold City Councillors finally got the chance to question and address concerns to Jeff Dixon, the General Manager of the Canada Games Park during Tuesday's council meeting. While a consortium agreement between Brock University, St. Catharines and Thorold outlines park operations, the independent operator ASM Global is responsible for the day-to-day management of the park, which has been a source of frustration for many Thorold residents. Unused ice time and restricted access to the running track are among the recent concerns raised.

Dixon gave a presentation highlighting the park's features and ASM Global’s responsibilities, but Councillors had many questions and spent 45 minutes grilling him about the park's operation. Councillor Tim O’Hare started by asking about the frequency of unused courts and rinks. Dixon responded that there is unused space during the day but it is well-utilized during prime times. However, he could not provide an exact vacancy rate.

Councillor Jim Handley raised the issue of the parking lot being used by Brock students who do not use the facility, which Dixon said has been addressed by contacting a towing company. Councillor Henry D’Angela focused on the park's financials and expressed his frustration at the lack of financial data available. Dixon explained that ASM Global puts together a budget every year which goes to a finance committee, and eventually the management committee approves it.

Councillor Ken Sentance inquired about the possibility of hosting more pickleball during the daytime, which Dixon said they were already looking into. Councillor Anthony Longo accused ASM Global of not responding to his emails and asked about the facility’s projected loss for 2023. He also questioned the fairness of Brock University having their own dressing rooms and expressed his disappointment at the underutilization of the sports complex.

Councillor Nella Dekker wondered how to better promote the facility, and Dixon hoped that more community events would take place there to raise awareness among Thorold residents. Councillor Mike De Divitiis praised ASM Global for doing a great job, and Councillor Carmen DeRose asked if the facility's employees are unionized, to which Dixon replied that they are not.

Mayor Terry Ugulini concluded the meeting by saying that he appreciated the suggestions raised and looked forward to working together to fully utilize the facility.

Video Summary:

Bernard Lansbergen explains the controversy surrounding the sports facility built for the 2022 Canada Summer Games in Thorold. One of the main concerns raised is the unused arena, which is part of an agreement between the City of Thorold, the City of St. Catharines and Brock University. Each pays a third of the operating cost, but a part of the ice time paid for by the city is sitting unused, causing dissatisfaction among the public.

Lansbergen sheds light on the agreement between Thorold, St. Catharines, and Brock University, explaining that it was a lengthy deal for building and operating the park. The consortium agreement between the Niagara region, Thorold, St. Catherine's, and Brock University was made to build the park. However, in the operation agreement, only Thorold, St. Catharines, and Brock University are involved. Landsbergen also touches on the allocation of ice time, dressing rooms, and other construction details.

Regarding the utilization of the complex, Lansbergen mentions that Jeff Dixon, who runs Canada Games Park, has spoken to city council about community events planned at the facility. The hope is that by doing more community events, residents will become more aware of what's happening at the facility and what they can use. As those events increase, especially with summer on the horizon, people will know where they can go and the facility will be better utilized.