Skip to content

Speak up

Enjoy the game and hope you don't have to pee

As a society, it seems easier to shrug-off an issue than do anything about it. People appear to be just as happy to do nothing, or complain after-the-fact to people who can't do much more than agree or offer a similar shrug, than demand change... or at least demand something to be done correctly.

As municipalities across the region return once again to construction season, as shovels dig into the ground and tax dollars are unearthed to fund the ventures, it's important for residents to have a say in these projects. But it's not just a few words at an open house long before pencilled plans are poured into concrete forms, it should be an ongoing discussion and not even just after the drywall dust has settled, but as the new build is used by those who paid for it.


What's all this about? What is the intent? Well — have you been lucky enough to attend an Oilers game at Roger's Place yet? The $600 million cost of the downtown Edmonton structure was half-paid by city tax dollars, a quater paid by the hometown NHL hockey team, and the rest paid by lease agreements, federal grants and  ticket surcharges... so more taxpayers.  

The 18,000 seat structure is shiny, and even five years after it opened, still quite new-looking. It's got huge escalators, a giant gathering hall, an outdoor community square with a skating arena and massive video screens for outdoor game viewing... and during a sold-out hockey game, there's not a bad seat in the place... unless you're looking for one in a washroom.

There are just 500 bathroom fixtures — male, female and family toilets and urinals combined — in the performance area of the giant, downtown structure. If 18,000 people watch an Oilers game, split equally into male and female genders for the point of this example, that's one "place" for every 36 people. That's great if 36 people get up from their seat between hockey periods every three or four minutes to visit the bathroom... but they don't. Hockey fans pay first-world prices for the privilege of watching millionaires play, while being forced into third-world conditions for basic needs. And this is still happening even after engineers and planners "fixed" the problem by adding more bathroom fixtures. Those same planners also seem to have forgotten that when a game ends, the vast majority of those 18,000 people are leaving at the same time... many herded shoulder to shoulder for a half-hour shuffle along the mezzanine towards the one outbound escalator.  

It's ridiculous... It's degrading, and it's happening in a place that hosts national and global events. Yet there is no groundswell of opposition or demands for better plans? Or is it that no one cares as long as the cameras are turned onto the event and not those paying to host it? If no one is making changes to the massive mistakes at Rogers Place, even when the issues are absolutely obvious at every single big-ticket event, good luck when it comes to getting it right with a new kitchen in a rural community hall, a road re-surfacing in an old subdivision, or a new swimming pool in a rural community. 

It's only going to be done right if the people who use it speak up. Even when community buildings are built and up and running, it's important to let local leaders know where improvement can still happen, instead of — like thousands do at a Rogers' Place event — holding it in.

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks