Doug Ross

Doug Ross

Civic Arena’s cracks shining through

Every time a wall is opened up or the ceiling is inspected, there’s another deficiency in the 1938 landmark building



There are skeletons in the closet at Civic Arena.

Every time a wall is opened up or the ceiling is inspected, there’s another deficiency in the 1938 landmark building.

“Just as soon as you repair something, something else crops up,” said Doug Ross, the City of Vernon’s recreation services director.

Case in point, was investigating some exterior cracks leading down to minor hockey storage.

“Water is running off of the parking lot and it’s leaking into the base of the wall. There’s also water damage to the two-by-four wood structure,” said Ross.

To fix the entire wall, inside and out, could be $100,000.

While hallway access must be maintained, the future of the storage room is unknown.

“It may be more efficient to lock the door and not do repairs,” said Ross.

A layer of ice currently covers the brine pipes, but when thawed, the key component to the refrigeration system raises alarm bells. There is corrosion and 60 per cent of the pipe wall integrity is gone.

“The possibility of the brine system failing is imminent. If it was to break during the ice season, we’d have to jackhammer the floor, repair the leak and then fill it,” said Ross.

The ice surface closest to the boards is 4.5 inches thick but eight feet out, it’s one inch thick.

“That’s the heaving in the floor,” said Ross, adding that the movement could force pipes to burst.

If the chilling unit unexpectedly quits, the other existing arenas in Vernon would be at capacity and still 40 per cent of Civic  users would be unable to play.

When the ice isn’t in, the concrete slab is covered in extensive cracks.

“We can’t play ball hockey or lacrosse because it’s not safe. We don’t let the facility be used in spring and summer,” said Ross.

A further tour of the complex highlights cracks in trusses and rotten joists

“The roof doesn’t meet snow load codes we have today,” said Ross.

Some washrooms have been updated for arena users while others have been abandoned because of  failing infrastructure.

“There’s not much demand for an extra washroom  so instead of investing dollars, you shut the room off,” said Ross.

The 1938 electrical system is being investigated.

“What they will find will add up to significant money,” said Ross.

Studies have indicated that the cost to keep Civic functional for five years is $5.6 million and $10.78 million for a decade.

Annual operating costs for the arena in 2016 are budgeted for $196,706.

“To put that kind of money into a building almost 80 years old is not cost effective,” said Ross.

Civic’s ultimate lifespan is not known.

“It’s all a matter of how much you want to invest,” said Ross.

Even if a Nov. 28 referendum to twin Kal Tire Place is successful, Civic Arena will be needed for ice sports for three years as construction proceeds.

“We want to keep the building running as long as we can so we don’t displace users,” said Ross.