Urgent upgrades are moving ahead at Civic Arena, but there’s still concern the aging facility could suddenly fail.
On Tuesday, Vernon council approved $75,000 in major maintenance work to keep Civic running until a replacement ice sheet may be constructed.
However, council was warned that even with the repairs, the 77-year-old arena faces significant challenges.
“It must be emphasized that regardless of the repairs that are completed, Civic Arena could suffer a major failure of the brine system which would impact the capability to operate the facility,” said Doug Ross, recreation director, in a report to council.
“The Carscadden (consulting firm) report notes that the prospect of imminent failure has been identified.”
If the ice plant were to fail, Civic Arena would be unavailable for minor hockey.
Decommissioning of Civic Arena depends on a successful borrowing referendum being held to twin Kal Tire Place. The Regional District of North Okanagan recently scrapped plans for a November referendum because provincial government approvals had not been received for a borrowing bylaw.
It’s not known when a referendum could be held.
“As it appears that holding a referendum in conjunction with the fall election is no longer a possibility, Civic Arena will need to be operated as an ice facility until at least the spring of 2017,” said Ross.
The maintenance work that has been approved includes plumbing, electrical and mechanical.
“We will look at what’s the highest priority. We will try and bang them off this fall,” said Ross.
Mayor Rob Sawatzky insists the maintenance would have still been needed even if there was a borrowing referendum in November.
“A referendum for a new sheet of ice wouldn’t have dealt with this,” he said of the need to keep Civic functional until a replacement arena can be constructed.