There’s really no going back now.
Sounds of the demolition of Vernon’s historic Civic Arena, which started in October, ring out for blocks.
Upon closer inspection, you likely wouldn’t recognize it as the 80-year-old building — the oldest such facility in the Okanagan — that housed the 1956 Allan Cup Canadian Senior Hockey Championship, rock concerts, boy scout ice jamborees, legendary basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters, and has been the permanent home of the Vernon Coca-Cola Classic Pee Wee Invitational Hockey Tournament during the Vernon Winter Carnival since the tournament’s inception in the 1970s.
The project manager of civic arena demolition Benny Nugent weighed in regarding the process.
“The front portion didn’t come down in the way I would have liked but it’s a lot of trial and error here because it’s an old building and it was built in 1937, it’s hard to tell at first. We have had an architect here throughout and now we know exactly how the structure is going to come down and have the rest of the plan mapped out.”
Reports indicated given the state of the 80-year-old building, reuse was deemed challenging and very costly — it would require significant upgrades in order to repurpose it.
The beams of the building have been a hot topic of conversation since the decision to tear down the building last November. Council proposed the demolition process include the salvage and reuse of materials, specifically the big timber trusses in the building.
“The beams will not be used as tresses again because they are too difficult to take down in one swoop and it would be a burden on the taxpayer to try and disassemble and then reassemble them but we want to save them as best we can,” said Nugent. “So once we get this all cleaned up, we’re going to section the tresses into manageable pieces that won’t damage them so we can reuse them because it’s a very high-quality wood that you wouldn’t come across very often.”
Workers can be seen on site, going through parts that have already come down and separating them into various raw materials so as to recycle them properly; specifically removing screws and other materials embedded into the wood.
“It should be relatively smooth from here,” Nugent said, predicting they should have the structure completely down within a few weeks.
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