Town of Lakeshore hosts Rourke Line Arena open house

Lakeshore Supervisor of Parks, Fleet, and Facilities, James Scott, and Consulting Architect with JP Thompson Architects Limited, Colin McDonald, display new plans for the old Belle River arena during an open house at the Atlas Tube Centre on Wednesday, April 17.

by Kyle Reid

There did not seem to be a lot of public interest in an open house the Town of Lakeshore hosted at the Atlas Tube Centre on Wednesday, April 17, as few individuals turned out to participate in the event that presented a new plan for the former Belle River Arena on Rourke Line.

The old arena, which has been sitting vacant since the construction of the newer, bigger Atlas Tube Centre was constructed in 2014, will soon become the home of new Town offices. The Town’s Parks, Facilities, and Fleet department and Water Operations department will move into the building after it is retrofitted to accommodate staff.  

“The [Town] needs space, and this is the perfect spot for it,” Colin McDonald said, who is the Consulting Architect with JP Thompson Architects Limited.

And few residents seem to be concerned with the plan. Only one name was marked on the sign-in sheet as the three-hour open house neared its end. The poor meeting attendance is a sign that many are happy to see a new use for the building, Town staff said at Wednesday’s meeting.

“They’re happy they won’t have to look across the road at an empty building with cracked asphalt,” James Scott said, who is the Town’s Supervisor of Parks, Fleet, and Facilities.

The building will be renovated to add amenities for Town staff, including locker rooms and showers. The old arena, which was first built in 1972, will also be fully accessible for staff and the public.

The space of the former Essex County Library, which is attached to the arena, will also house some staff from the Town’s Engineering and Infrastructure department. The move will free-up space inside the Lakeshore Town Hall, as well as make further use of the vacant Town-owned building.  

“Town Hall is strapped for space inside for employees,” Scott said. “We anticipate being [in the old arena] for 20-plus years. The Town owns the land, so we want to keep it.”

Scott said the expanding Water Operations Department is also wearing out its welcome as it is cramped inside the back half of the Lakeshore OPP building. The move will also come at a long-term cost-savings for the Town ,which is currently leasing a building for the Parks, Fleet, and Facilities Department.

“We just need the space,” Scott said. “We’re squeezed in…this gave us some floor space, some office space, [and] some employee space.”

“Geographically, this is in a great spot for [Town staff] to do what they do every day,” McDonald added.