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New ice facility gone to tender

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Tenders went out yesterday for a new double ice surface facility to be located next to the Sportsplex here, with Sept. 2 the deadline for proposals.

Council agreed unanimously Monday to go ahead with the arena steering committee’s recommendation for the North American (with a 1,000 spectator capacity) and Olympic-size (with 150 spectator capacity) rinks to be attached to the Sportsplex.

An upstairs viewing area also will be built.

But that means Memorial Arena will be demolished, making room for the 351-space parking lot—running from Second Street East to Scott Street—needed to accommodate the “multi-use” sports facility.

“To leave it there just wouldn’t be economical,” explained Community Services manager Coun. Bruce Armstrong, stressing the town couldn’t afford the upkeep of the new building and the old arena.

And with that, the town also will lose the arena auditorium, which seats 325 people and brought in $17,000 in rental revenue last year.

“We will lose some revenue but I think we’ll also save in operational cost,” Coun. Armstrong admitted.

He predicted savings would run between $25,000-$30,000 each year but stressed it wouldn’t mean job losses.

Mayor Glenn Witherspoon added it was “uneconomical” to keep Memorial Arena open. Council also directed CAO Bill Naturkach to research the history behind the arena’s name, which was dedicated as a war memorial.

But just when the present arena will come down is up to the successful bidder.

“This is not a traditional build," Coun. Armstrong explained. "What we’re doing is called ‘design/build.’”

Traditionally, the town hires an architect to design a facility to accommodate what is needed, and contracts it out. But with the design/build process, the town prepares a concept of what it wants, then has contractors design and build the facility as an entire package.

The town also plans to hire an engineering firm to advise it on technical merits of the “design/build” proposals.

“Whether or not that continues on to the construction portion has not been decided yet,” added Naturkach.

The cost of the project won’t be known until tenders come in. Council capped its contribution at $3 million, with “Ice For Kids” to kick in a minimum of $500,000.

The new facility also will have some 300 sq. metres in the building unused, which could be used for a food area down the road. But Mayor Witherspoon stressed the town was in the recreation business—and it wasn’t prepared to provide competition for local food entrepreneurs.

“We’re certainly not going to be using it as an auditorium,” Coun. Armstrong assured, adding they wanted a facility where they could offer activities such as aerobics.

“Ice For Kids” is promoting a non-alcoholic facility.

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