Canso Waterfront in the fog

CANSO: After 40 years of service, the Canso and Area Arena Commission is stepping aside to allow for an operational change at their local rink.

The commission is currently finalizing the process of handing off operations for the arena, that was built by the community in 1979, to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG).

Warden Vernon Pitts suggested the municipality is involved in all aspects of recreation, and with the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex (CLC) they operate and maintain through their recreation and public works departments, he believes the acquisition made sense.

“Down there, the people of Canso, they shouldn’t be given any less service than what the people of Guysborough receive,” Pitts said. “It’s a recreation facility and I think it’s imperative our recreation department operates and maintains it.”

A representative with the commission indicated after a solid history over the last four decades in managing the community asset, they have agreed to end their operational lease so the municipality can continue to share their expertise in managing a facility.

According to a May 18 media release from the commission, the new approach will accompany an increased capital investment in improving the facility, and will also bring the arena under the management of Recreation Department Director Angie Tavares.

The facility will benefit from an increased budget expenditure for improvements to accessibility, operational investments, and an expanded program under the direction of Tavares and her staff.

Vice chair of the arena commission, Bill MacMillan, said they maintained their historic level of service to the community after the amalgamation, a critical part of this was community fundraising.

“After some very challenging years at the arena, we see this as a win-win for our community and our user base. The municipality have been responsive and generous partners with us for many years,” MacMillan said. “MODG saw how driven we were and how important we believe our facility is, not only for recreation, but as a social centre of Canso and area.”

The commission will relieve itself of increasing costs, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, which also negatively impacted fundraising efforts and prevented their major revenue source from taking place, the Stan Rogers Folk Festival.

“This was something council has been looking at for a couple of years as a matter of fact. We just hadn’t pulled the trigger on it,” Pitts said. “I certainly commend the people of Canso for stepping forward, all the volunteers over the years. (For) 40 years now, they’ve been running the arena and they should certainly be commended.”

The arena commission will now take some time to consider its future, and determine if there should be a continuation of the serive, or a role change for the facility. They anticipate a smooth transition, additional facility investments and improvements moving ahead.

The warden explained the discussions between their recreation department, the deputy warden, as well as their CAO and the arena commission, were very positive.

“We’ve had no problems since day one, going forward I think it’s going to be all good,” Pitts added. “Its all very positive, we’re moving forward and moving forward in a positive sense, it’s only right and fair we supply the services in that area.”