The official phasing out of a huge part of Vernon’s history has begun.
Some demolition of the Vernon Civic Arena has commenced as residents will notice fencing all around the facility on 37th Avenue, which turned 80 in January.
“As part of the decommissioning we have removed all of the ammonia from the facility, the boards and score clock are being repurposed and we have removed memorabilia and some equipment,” said Doug Ross, City of Vernon director of recreation services.
“The actual timing of the demolition will depend on the contractor and the progress they make.”
Asked about one of the Civic Arena’s most identifiable features, the amazing wood rafters making up the ceiling inside the facility, Ross said: “The city has requested that we retain some of the wood to be re-used for some unidentified purposes. We have some ideas, but will need to wait and see what condition the wood is actually in.”
The facility hosted one last event in January, a retro-style B.C. Hockey League game between the Vernon Vipers and Prince George Spruce Kings, which drew a sold-out crowd as patrons came to say goodbye to the ancient building, and reminisce over hockey and lacrosse games, Boy Scout jamborees, concerts and high school graduation ceremonies held at Civic Arena.
After reviewing numerous options, the city decided in November 2017 to pursue demolition of the Civic Arena, the oldest such facility in the Okanagan which opened in 1938.
The move came after council received a structural building assessment and cost estimates associated with reusing the building.
Reports indicated that bringing the building into compliance with the Building Code to a basic shell building would be an estimated $11-12 million. New construction for the same basic shell facility would be $8-9 million. The estimates did not include any interior finishing or upgrades related to a future use.
Discussions about the future of the Civic Arena were sparked by the new ice surface expansion at Kal Tire Place, with the second arena, Kal Tire Place North, officially opening over the weekend.
Once completed, the Civic Arena would no longer be used as an ice surface.
The Civic Arena hosted the 1956 Allan Cup Canadian Senior Hockey Championship (won in five games by the hometown Vernon Canadians), the 1978 Canadian Senior B Lacrosse Championships (won by the hometown Vernon Tigers) and the 1990 Centennial Cup Canadian Junior A Hockey Championship (won 6-5 in overtime by the hometown Vernon Lakers over the New Westminster Royals).
N0thing has been determined as to what will go on the site once the Civic Arena is demolished.