Civic Arena replacement options on the board

Renovations to the Civic Arena are costly, therefore replacement is being investigated and options are being looked at. - Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star
Renovations to the Civic Arena are costly, therefore replacement is being investigated and options are being looked at.
— image credit: Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star

Renovations could make Civic Arena unusable for hockey.

Regional District of North Okanagan directors voted Wednesday to investigate options for a new ice sheet in Greater Vernon and not immediately look at upgrades to the 1938 Civic.

“Once everything is done, you would still have a 78-year-old building,” said Doug Ross, the City of Vernon’s recreation manager.

The biggest issue with Civic is the failing concrete slab, which is 180-feet-by-80-feet in size. Regulation-size ice is 200-by-85-feet and if the slab was replaced, it would be six to 12 inches smaller than its current size because of cost and engineering issues.

“Any further reduction in size would further compromise the ability to hold events there,” said Ross.

Bleachers would have to be removed if the slab was expanded to regulation-size ice, and Ross says that would increase costs.

An engineering assessment was recently conducted on Civic and it suggested it would cost $1.5 million to replace the slab surface, which is at risk from a deteriorating brine (refrigeration) system.

The engineering report also says an immediate $100,000 in life and safety upgrades would be needed if Civic remains open while short-term upgrades of $5.6 million would be needed in two to five years.

“Once you start doing renovations, there is the possibility of bringing everything up to code and that can drive costs up,” said Ross.

The process towards a new arena is moving ahead in Greater Vernon.

On Wednesday, RDNO directors approved going to a request for proposals for a feasibility and cost analysis report into a new ice sheet replacing Civic Arena.

“Civic is in really dire straights,” said director Catherine Lord.

“The brine system could fail at any time so we have no choice with what we should do.”

The scope of the report will look at three options: twinning Kal Tire Place, twinning Priest Valley Arena and a new stand-alone arena.

Up to $100,000 will be spent on the feasibility-cost analysis, and it’s expected that the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee will hold a special meeting June 25 so a final decision can be made on whether a borrowing referendum would be held this fall on a new ice sheet.

A rough figure of $5 million has been suggested for a new arena but firm costs have not been determined.

Board members admit that Greater Vernon voters may refuse to borrow funds for a new ice sheet and that would mean upgrades to Civic would have to be considered.

“If a referendum fails, we’ll be throwing money at something past its prime,” said director Juliette Cunningham.


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