Time is running out on the clock for Vernon’s Civic Arena.
City council has instructed staff to pursue plans to decommission the 75-year-old ice sheet by either twinning Wesbild Centre or Priest Valley Arena.
“Civic is going to fail and needs replacement so it’s thoughtful and logical for us to consider how to do that,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.
The earliest there could be a new facility, given a referendum and construction, is 2016.
State-of-the-art in 1938, Civic Arena’s best days are long behind it.
“The facility does not have sufficient snow loading capability in the roof,” said Doug Ross, the city’s recreation services manager.
“The (engineer’s) report also noted ongoing issues with the heaving of the concrete slab and the increase in vertical cracks in the exterior walls.”
Because the slab has heaved at least six inches in some places, there is also the potential for the brine cooling pipes to break.
While a core services review by KPMG didn’t recommend replacing Civic, Ross doesn’t believe that is feasible given that Civic has 1,600 hours of ice use during the winter and existing Vernon arenas could only handle 60 per cent of that through dramatic rescheduling (teams playing hockey at 2 a.m.).
“Armstrong and Lumby do not have the ability to accommodate those people (the remaining 40 per cent),” he said.
The goal would be to construct a new 400-seat facility. Ideally, it would be at Wesbild Centre, but because of an ongoing legal dispute at Kin Race Track, land may not be available.
The Regional District of North Okanagan has budgeted for a study to determine if Priest Valley Arena can be twinned.
Depending on the site, a new arena could cost between $5 and $10 million.
“Using the current revenue generated by Civic Arena and estimated operational costs for a new energy efficient facility attached to an existing arena, the facility could operate at break even and essentially eliminate the existing $160,000 deficit to operate Civic,” said Ross.
“Additionally, the facility would become more attractive for the hosting of tournaments and large dry floor events.”
Sawatzky says the city is working with Coldstream and the electoral areas on arena needs.
“They share in the usage, the planning and the costs,” he said.