Another season of marquee events at Spectra Place is underway.
The Estevan Bruins will host their home opener on September 20 – welcomed news for all of us who suffer from a hockey addiction. A fantastic concert happened on September 17, courtesy of the Irish super group Celtic Thunder, who not only enthralled the audience with their vocal skills, but they also brought an impressive seven-piece band and an elaborate, towering stage.
The coming months will deliver the Estevan Showcase business expo and other special events, more Bruins hockey games, minor hockey games and hopefully a couple more concerts.
But one source of consternation remains for those who visit the venue: the state of the Leisure Centre's parking lot.
Now granted, there have been other projects in the city that have drawn the attention of contractors, most notably the rebuild of Highway 47 in the northern half of the city, and the extension of Wellock Road from Irvine Crescent to Sister Roddy Road.
But the last couple months provided the perfect opportunity to complete the parking lot. Prior to Celtic Thunder's visit, the last marquee event at Spectra was the Tragically Hip concert on July 8.
Yes, there were hockey camps in July and August, and the Bruins had training camp and pre-season games in September, but those don't draw big crowds.
Thanks to the incomplete status of the parking lot, spectators who attended Celtic Thunder had to park as far away as Smith Street. If there would have been a better crowd, the lack of available parking spots would have been really exposed.
The parking lot has been largely gravel since the Leisure Centre opened in 1992. It's one of several large parking lots in the community that are gravel, and they contribute to the dust problems in the community.
In the case of the Leisure Centre's parking lot, it creates a poor first impression of what is an otherwise excellent facility. We rave about Spectra Place, but Spectra Place isn't the only impressive asset in the cluster of buildings.
The Leisure Cente's parking lot should have been paved many years ago. Instead, the project was shelved, and it's happening now, when contractors are busier, labour is in short supply, the cost of asphalt is higher and the City has other projects to worry about.
And it should have been finished this past summer, before marquee events resumed, before marquee events resume, and a lack of parking became an obvious problem.