Rink founder hoping things can be sorted out so it can continue

St. George – As the founder and president of the Michael E. Morton Memorial Rink Inc. (MEMMRI), Troy Morton would like to see it last a lifetime so he is hoping its future can be sorted out.

“At this point, we are just waiting on options. We want to work with the town in some form of partnership to make things work and make things better and work fluidly. When I said I was going to have to be done it was because I had not heard back from the town.”

Morton said he made his presentation to council in May and had been informed by the acting CAO (Jane Lee) that the new CAO (Jason Gaudet) would get back to him by mid-June.

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“I hadn’t heard anything so by the third week in June, it was my assumption that they didn’t want to proceed any further. In my heart I want to see this rink last a lifetime. It wouldn’t be fair to the kids or to me if this dream ended.

“What I am hoping can happen is that these differences of opinion and egos, mine included, can be put aside and we can get through this and sort this out. We don’t know what the future holds.”

The board is trying to decide whether MEMMRI should remain as a non-profit organization or sign everything over to the town with some conditions attached, said Morton.

He said discussions are ongoing and they have been approached by someone from outside who wants to become involved so a meeting is planned.

Initially the outdoor rink was set up at the Day Adventure Centre which, said Morton, was the ideal location but the town had some plans for the area and was hoping to get some funding to develop it so suggested the rink be moved to Magaguadavic Place where a permanent structure could be built.

“At the end of the day, the Day Adventure Centre is the perfect location and always will be but it is not town property. It is Irvings. We couldn’t build permanent structures without their permission.”

Morton said he approached council in May after receiving conditional approval for a $40,000 grant from the province through the Regional Development Corporation.

“I pitched a couple of ideas. Let’s put something permanent on the ground that we can use as a rink in the winter, and take some of this grant and incorporate a splash pad in the summer so we can use it all year round.

“It’s the perfect location with the playground and the skate park nearby. I pitched the idea that the town could apply for more funding to add to this $40,000 and do something more each year. If it takes two or three years, so be it. You don’t have to spend $600,000 to build an elaborate splash pad.

“It comes down to economics. I think we have a golden opportunity here. I believe we are at the point where we need to start working together and collaborate with others and give people what they want.

“People have been asking for a splash pad for such a long time. It would be a perfect place to do it. It would be a permanent cement or paved structure and we could plumb it in.

“We could just start small, get something on the ground and build it over the years. I can’t do this all by myself. I need the town to buy in. We need to work together fully. We need to start small and build over time.”

When he felt the outdoor rink was not going anywhere, Morton said he wanted to donate the building and everything to someone who could use it and, since it was built for kids, he decided to approach Fundy Middle and High School. He said they are number one on the list to receive the MEMMRI property if the outdoor rink doesn’t go ahead.

“In my heart I don’t want to give up. I had a great conversation with Jason and we have managed to come up with a few different options. They are great, as far as that goes, but they are not the only ones available to us.

“I am learning now there is interest in keeping the non-profit alive. I should know in the next day or so. We will sort it out one way or another – what is best for the community, what is best for the town and for the non-profit organization.”