Community groups in Bothwell are up in arms over news their arena will be converted into a multi-use facility this winter.

Jackie Beatty with the Bothwell Area Recreation Advisory Committee says they weren’t even consulted before a decision was made.

“BARAC has been working with Chatham-Kent closely, with staff and council, since early 2016,” Beatty says. “We were assured that any major decisions would come to us first.”

Beatty says the group has done extensive research on making better use of the facility and made a presentation to council.

“The fact that we weren’t consulted, I have to say it was a slap in the face.”

Earlier this week, the municipality approved a recommendation to convert the Bothwell Arena and Erickson Arena in Chatham to multi-use facilities.

The plan is the two rinks will host sports such as ball hockey, volleyball, and pickleball, in an attempt to make arenas viable due to less demand this winter for ice from hockey and skating groups.

“It’s not just one of 10 arenas, to Bothwell it’s a key to our economy, our social wellbeing, our physical wellbeing. We don’t have other options,” Beatty says. “They’re always making decisions based on Chatham-Kent as a city model, but really we should be looking at us as a county or the hybrid that we are.”

Beatty hopes that with more discussion, the municipality could still reverse its decision.