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Editorial: Many places to spend for Council

Balancing the wants versus the needs
Yorkton Council is always getting requests for more amenities in city.
YORKTON - Yorkton Council was presented something of a conundrum Monday evening; should the City invest a few million in patching up the near 50-year-old Kinsmen Arena in hopes of it remaining useful for another decade and a half, or do you take the band-aid money and invest in something new that would potentially be in use for the next half century? 

That is one of those questions where there probably is not a right answer as both avenues have merit, and both have their issues as well. 

Which path any one individual might choose will depend on a variety of factors. 

For those leaning toward new there is the simple truth that you don’t worry about unknown issues that might crop up with renovations – unknown asbestos to remove for example. 

A new facility tied to the Gallagher Centre offers some added potential in terms of attracting and hosting truly major events one would expect, at least with good marketing. 

And, being new you have a far greater expectation of life expectancy, whereas with a renovation, what might spring up in a decade is largely unknown. It is after all not that unusual to hear stories of someone waking up one morning to find their water heater, furnace or fridge have broken down without notice. A hockey arena can face the same issues, only a larger, more costly to repair basis. 

Of course the Kinsmen Arena exists and keeping it running is a lower cost alternative – again barring anything unexpected happening – and that is an important consideration too based on the long list of real needs – infrastructure deficits leading the way – and wants that in recent months have come to include a new football field and a basketball facility. 

When it comes to projects there are never a shortage for a municipality, the clubhouse for Deer Park Golf Course and the idea of a pump bike track two of which are fresh in the community’s mind. 

And, if there are ever spare dollars to invest, the sidewalks, asphalt, and underground infrastructure deficit is a massive one that will be around longer than either the retrofitted Kinsmen, or a brand new replacement. 

There is also the elephant in the room that Council sees looming in the shadows – that being a new hospital one day and the fact the province which used to fund such facilities on their own have managed to off-load a chunk of the cost to local municipalities. 

It all comes from taxpayers in the end, the City’s share just coming from a smaller group of taxpayers.  

That project, when it comes – perhaps a convenient announcement around the next provincial election? – will cost the City millions. 

While the hospital will come one day, and it is certainly important as locally we don’t want to see more need to travel to Regina for health care than already exists, it can’t stop other projects either.  

Certainly you can argue whether paved pathways, or fancy new intersection signage that lights up at night, or golf clubhouses, pump bike tracks or ice surfaces are needed, but as always the City and therefore Council must find balance. 

The hospital will come one day, and local taxpayers will be on the hook for a chunk of the cost, but what needs doing until that project is green-lit must still be done too.