After a year and a half, the Cambridge Bay arena has finally been cleared to reopen. Even so, the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay is determined to build a new recreation complex rather than investing in more fixes to the aging and dilapidated arena.
The recreational facility was expected to be accessible again in October, after contractor Qillaq Construction completed what was then a $257,000 contract issued by the Department of Community and Government Services (CGS). However, mould problems were worse than anticipated and numerous other issues exist, said Jim MacEachern, assistant senior administrative officer.
“They had to basically tear down the Zaboni room and a few different areas in the building, so then it was (a matter of) rebuilding those areas,” said MacEachern, who added that residents have shown patience throughout this ordeal. “There’s (still) structural issues. The whole front section, which is where the lobby is and the change rooms, the office and the skate-sharpening room, essentially that would have to be torn off and then rebuilt. We don’t believe that’s the best way to spend the money. We think putting it toward a new facility is definitely the way to go.”
The curling rink, lounge, canteen area and the former hamlet offices and council chambers upstairs remain off limits to the public due to remaining mould.
The Hamlet has heard estimates ranging from $6 million-$12 million to completely overhaul the building, said MacEachern.
He said he didn’t know how much the mould removal done over the past several months wound up costing. CGS didn’t respond to questions from Nunavut News prior to deadline.
The federal government had designated $4.2 million for arena renovations in 2015. Senior administrative officer Marla Limousin previously pegged the cost of a new recreation complex at $20 million-$30 million. MacEachern said one option would be to build a new arena and gradually construct additions to create a multi-use facility over years.
Another limitation of the existing rink is the sand floor. It means the facility is only usable during the winter when the ice is in place because indoor sports like soccer and basketball cannot be played without a concrete floor or artificial turf.
The air quality in the rink specifically has finally been deemed acceptable via environmental testing. The deputy fire marshal and electrical inspector signed off their inspections last week, according to MacEachern.
The aim now is to keep the arena open until at least the end of April and, weather permitting, into the first couple weeks of May.
Cambridge Bay is scheduled to host the Kitikmeot Cup hockey tournament April 4-7.
“It’s been far too long that it’s been closed,” Mayor Pamela Gross said of the arena. “There’s been a lot of anticipation… we’re excited for residents to get back out on the ice and use the facility.”