Arena must benefit all

Dear editor:
I’d like to take this opportunity to write in reaction to the article which appeared in Thursday’s edition of the Daily Bulletin concerning whether or not the town should bring in a new “no-alcohol” policy for the planned ice rink auditorium.
At present, no such policy is in place at the Memorial Arena auditorium. If a family wants to hold a wedding social for a young couple about to get married, that family has that opportunity to do so at the arena. If a community group, such as the Chamber of Commerce or Crime Stoppers, wants to raise funds for a special project, they are able to do that at the Memorial Arena auditorium.
If a club wants to host a special evening of dinner and dance, they are able to reduce their costs by having a cash bar at the arena.
To now tell the taxpaying public that they will no longer be able to rent the auditorium for adult social functions, and serve liquor, is wrong.
As Mr. Lane, of the Chamber of Commerce, pointed out, without a liquor licence, the Chamber would have lost $17,000 on the Little Amik Winter Carnival. If the new auditorium becomes a “dry” facility, could the Chamber look to the commercial liquor establishments to make up the shortfall? I don’t think so.
The liquor establishments are basically in business for their own benefit rather than the community’s, as they should rightly be. The winter carnival, and events similar to it, do not compete with establishments such as the Red Dog Inn, La Place Rendez-Vous, or the curling club. Community functions generate new money.
I would wager that there isn’t one person who asks himself whether or not he should go out to the Red Dog Inn for a quite dinner, or should he go to a function at the arena? The two have nothing in common. To suggest that the arena is in competition with the commercial establishments is ludicrous.
I was at the meeting with the arena steering committee and nobody there was suggesting that there should be a full-time bar on the premises. I would be the first to speak out against that idea (well, maybe some of the liquor lounges in town would beat me to it).
The president of the Fort Frances Curling Club, Brenda Cox, suggested that commercial taxpayers could no longer continue to subsidize special occasions or community events. While I can appreciate that the curling club is a private business and a taxpayer, I would argue that it is the property taxpayers who are paying the majority of the price tag on the new rink facilities.
For private business to now tell the people who are basically footing the bill that they will no longer be given a choice between going to a private business or hosting an event on their own is a sure-fire way to get people really upset.
Private enterprises will certainly do very well from a “no-alcohol” policy at the arena but they will be the only ones. To quote Mr. Lane, “Let’s not put any limits on it too soon that we may regret later.” Let this community-funded facility benefit the entire community.
Mark Kowalchuk