By Lyonel Doherty
Even at 50, the old girl is showing her age in Oliver.
That old girl is the arena, which is now the big topic of discussion at Oliver Parks and Recreation.
On Monday, manager Carol Sheridan addressed town council requesting that a funding application be made for some arena improvements.
Sheridan said the arena originally opened in February 1969 and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the new year.
She noted that a building assessment in 2017 indicated the average life expectancy of the concrete foundation and steel structure is approximately 75 years. It is anticipated that the metal cladding, roof systems and windows and doors will need replacing before the building reaches its lifecycle over the next 27 years.
Sheridan noted the replacement cost for the entire building is estimated to be $7.8 million.
She pointed out that the brine lines (cooling agent for the ice) and concrete slab are prematurely failing and need to be replaced as soon as possible.
• Read more: ‘Immature’ parents cause brawl in hockey arena
Immediate expenditures to extend the life of the arena will cost between two and three million dollars over the next one to five years, Sheridan said.
In her presentation to council, she said major improvements are necessary, specifically the brine lines and slab. She noted that such a replacement project would involve getting new boards, player boxes and new bleachers.
“Once we start taking the concrete and slab out, and you start doing any construction, certain things will no longer be to code,” she said. “Once you start ripping a certain portion out, you kind of have to do it all.”
Councillor Aimee Grice asked how urgent it was to replace the brine lines and slab.
Sheridan said they aren’t confident they can make it through another season. “It’s urgent.”
She explained they repair between six and 12 brine lines every year.
Sheridan pointed out the project is eligible for a recently announced infrastructure grant from the government. So she asked that either the Town or the regional district apply for the grant, which would cover up to 73 per cent of the cost.
• Read more: Oliver arena ice gets fresh coat of paint
“We’ve actually gone for some big dream stuff . . . we’d like it to be a regulation size arena,” she said. “If we ever have the hope of attracting a junior B (hockey) team or maybe some larger scale stuff for the arena, we’d like to be able to do that.”
Therefore, it would be necessary to extend the size of the building, she pointed out.
Sheridan said the one dream she has been asked by seniors is to have an indoor walking track.
Sheridan said the arena is an integral part of life and culture in Oliver because it has been bringing people together for nearly 50 years.
Council will discuss the issue at its next meeting, with the understanding that the Town will write a letter of support for the application, which would then be submitted by the regional district.