Piece by piece, Vernon's Civic Arena is literally falling apart: City | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Piece by piece, Vernon's Civic Arena is literally falling apart: City

Recreation services manager Doug Ross says leaky pipes are hitting the city hard in its water bills.
October 30, 2015 - 1:38 PM

VERNON - Cracked walls, crumbling concrete and a heaving floor are among a long list of problems plaguing the Civic Arena in Vernon.

Bit by bit, the 77-year-old arena is falling apart, says Vernon recreation services manager Doug Ross.

“Just as you repair one thing, something else crops up,” Ross says.

Cracks in the floor have already limited use of the facility; due to the tripping hazard, lacrosse is no longer permitted during the spring and summer. Water leaks in the mechanical room continue to rack up the utility bill. The roof doesn’t meet current building codes for snow loads. Fixing a water damaged wall in a roughly 40-foot hallway sports a price tag of, at minimum, $20,000. The list goes on.

Merely keeping the building running for the next five years bears a projected cost of $5.6 million, and over $10 million for another decade of use. The cost of upgrading the ice sheet to regulation size would run roughly $13.9 million. For that price, officials are asking taxpayers to instead put that money into twinning Kal Tire Place for $13.2 million.

Greater Vernon voters go to referendum on Nov. 28 for Civic Arena to be decommissioned and a new ice sheet added to Kal Tire Place. As voters prepare to make their decision, government officials are shining a spotlight on Civic Arena’s flaws, which they say amount to a ticking time bomb.

The biggest concern is the brine system — which keeps the ice cold — breaking down. Due to shifting soil, the actual rink surface heaves up to six inches in places, and an X-ray of the brine system’s pipes — which run underneath the slab floor — show they’ve eroded 60 per cent. It means a break in the brine system is highly possible, Ross says.

If the facility suffered a major breakdown — like the brine system failing — user groups would be shuffled to either Priest Valley Arena or Kal Tire Place, but Ross says 40 per cent of users would still be left with nowhere to go.

“Typically kids come first and so we would look at rearranging ice times as much as possible to accommodate the youth in the community and that could ultimately end up displacing some of the adults,” Ross says.

State of the art back in the day, Ross says the arena is ‘past its prime’ and has ‘definitely seen its best days.’

Twinning Kal Tire Place would not only give Vernon a dependable rink, it would also carry numerous operational savings, like being able to share the existing ice plant instead of having two, Ross says.

“The benefits a new facility would bring to the community are huge,” Ross says. “If we were to twin (Kal Tire Place) that adds even more opportunity for hosting events and tournaments and trade shows.”

Click here for more stories on the referendum.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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