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Mayor’s Column – November 1, 2017

November 1, 2017


I’ve several times referred in this column to the second law of thermodynamics. In physics it has to do with the degree of randomness or disorder in the system. In other words, it has to do with the degree to which the system is wearing out, falling apart, becoming dysfunctional, reaching the point at which it must be abandoned or replaced.

We see it in our streets, our sewer systems, our bridges, and our mortal bodies. We see it in the way our landfills are accumulating stuff we no longer want within our range of vision. We see it when thoughtless people dump their garbage in otherwise pristine wild places. Time, chance, popularity, weather, and sun all play a part in the rapidity with which things and systems wear out.

On the other hand, wisdom, prudence, and forethought put into action make a way for extending the useful life of the object or system and or replacing it in a timely fashion at a price we are willing to afford.

Those of you who love to skate or play hockey or shiver in the bleachers may have been aware that the arena slab with its refrigeration plant (condenser and chiller) had been closing in on the end of its service life for several years (the second law of thermodynamics was exerting its relentless power). That end arrived at the end of last skating season. But the end did not catch your Rec Centre Management team sleeping. They had been planning for its replacement, arranging the financing, and securing the technical expertise for the job for the previous 12 – 15 months. Along with the new arena slab are included a ducted air ventilation system and a dehumidification unit plus replacement of the curling brine headers. As a skater or curler you might not even notice the difference when you put your blades or sliders to the new ice. But your Rec Centre Managers will be able to sleep on chilly nights knowing that that every safety measure has been taken and that no one will disappear into the frozen abyss during their watches.

Perhaps you are interested in some of the financial details of the project. At a cost of $2 million plus it’s not small change. You might think a season ticket to the ice is expensive. Agreed. But your ticket covers only about 25% of the operations cost, none of the capital. So how do we assemble the capital for a project of this magnitude? The answer lies in the measure of cooperation among the parts plus good management at all levels.

Under the direction of the Commission, Management had assembled a healthy reserve for this very purpose. Peace River Regional District (PRRD) Area E Director Dan Rose provided grants totalling $750,000 from funds under his jurisdiction. The Canada 150 fund contributed $500,000, and the Northern Development Initiative Trust came through with $250,000. We owe a big thank you to all who contributed.

The Recreation Centre is operated by the District of Chetwynd on behalf of its owner, the PRRD. A Commission comprised of two Councillors and the Mayor from the District of Chetwynd plus two unelected citizens and the Chair, Director of PRRD Area E, provides oversight to Centre management, the Director of Parks and Recreation, Randy Rusjan. So you see, there are many moving parts in this relationship with ample room for things to skid into the boards if they are not carefully and respectfully managed.

Each part has to understand its role and its boundaries. Each part has to do with diligence the tasks assigned. This is how the project plans and funding came together in time to put out the call for tenders so the job could start on time and finish on time for this season of blades on ice.

Thank you to all who had a part in this project: Area E Director Rose, the PRRD, the Rec Centre Management, the Commission, and the District of Chetwynd working together for the common good. Enjoy the results.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor