Summerside has one of the premier recreational facilities in Eastern Canada.
Much has been said and written about Credit Union Place and not all of it favourable.
Many have complained that the $40-million-plus pricetag was too extravagant particularly for a city the size of Summerside.
Complaints have also been raised about the costs of taking part in many of the programs and facilities at the centre.
Mayor Basil Stewart has defended the size and cost of Credit Union Place saying it is built to serve the community for decades and not only this community but Prince County.
On Monday night, Coun. Cory Thomas brought a suggestion to the floor of city council that would provide free nights for youth at Credit Union Place.
The New Year’s Eve celebration at Credit Union Place provides a night of free activities for families and draws big crowds every year. Thomas said this should happen more often.
“It was great New Year’s Eve, a free night and the place was packed,” he said. “I was wondering if council would consider in our budget discussions sponsoring some sort of a youth free night at the Credit Union Place. There would be free swimming for people, bowling and different things for our youth. I know other communities would do that.”
Thomas suggested the business community could also become involved in sponsoring a free night.
Stewart liked the idea suggesting free nights be established for seniors and residents in general.
The idea has a lot of merit.
Recreation centres are not a money making proposition. They exist to serve the community. The taxpayers foot the bill for the facility and they should be the ones who benefit from it.
But in reality, Credit Union Place is more than just a recreation facility and it was built as such. The mayor has said Credit Union Place is “not just a rink” and can be used to generate economic activity.
To the city’s credit, it has begun to bring in major sporting events and workable concerts to generate revenue and enhance the profile of the city and the facility. This, along with the Summerside Storm and the Western Capitals, has given the city a good foundation to recoup some costs at Credit Union Place.
But no matter how many concerts and events are staged there, the public needs to realize Credit Union Place will not pay its own way. And it shouldn’t be expected to.
Thomas’ idea for free nights at Credit Union Place is a good one, particularly if the corporate community jumps on board. It is a positive service to the public at very little cost and brings a sense of community to the facility.