According to a series of studies released by the Arena Task Force, the preferred location for a two-sheet arena is behind the South Okanagan Events Centre. Submitted image

Cost of new two-sheet arena higher than renovating existing facilities

Building a new arena would cost almost as much as modernizing existing facilities

New studies released by the Arena Task Force say the 66-year-old Memorial Arena and 45-year-old McLaren Arena are carrying their age well.

According to the cost estimates provided, modernizing Memorial would cost $17.5 million, and upgrading McLaren would cost another $5.1 million, extending the lifespan of both for 40-plus years.

The total $22.6 million investment is more expensive than building a new single-surface multi-use arena on the South Okanagan Events Centre campus at $18.2 million but less than the $28.6 million a two-sheet facility would cost.

According to the engineering study, both arenas are well maintained, with minor deficiencies related to current building code standards. In the case of Memorial, the mechanical and electrical systems can continue with maintenance upgrades, though a new generator is recommended and a new refrigeration plant is needed in the near future.

An inspection of the piles supporting the building concludes they are in good condition, though with some decay.

“The piles were generally in good shape with the decay identified in the top of most piles in the direct contact zone between wood and concrete,” reads the Entech report, which also notes that roots from nearby trees penetrated the soil to below the pile caps, drawing moisture and nutrition from the decaying surface layer of the piles.

“This may have been of benefit to the piles as the trees reduced the moisture and therefore may have extended the life expectancy of the piles,” according to Entech. “With the exception of the surface decay and structural damage during installation … the piles were in excellent shape with structural wood fibre similar to fresh piles.”

Memorial Arena’s key architectural feature, the arches that give an unobstructed view of the ice surface, also need some repair work, repairing the rot at the base of the arches where they contact the concrete footings.

Problems identified with McLaren also include a new refrigeration plant, and the low ceiling, which limits the arena’s use for lacrosse in the spring and summer.

The studies were released to the public Wednesday in advance of a public meeting. Stewart Ladyman, chair of the Arena Task Force, said there is pressure on the committee, both to meet a deadline for a grant application that could result in up to $6 million towards either renovating the arenas or building a new one.

“Many of the people that we have spoken to have been waiting for this level of detail before forming an opinion on what to do about Memorial Arena,” said Ladyman. “The ink is barely dry on a few of the studies but we felt it was important to get the information out as early as possible.”

The task force is looking for as much public input as possible as they work to prepare a recommendation for Penticton city council in advance of the July 30 grant application deadline. The studies are available online at http://www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/arenataskforce along with a feedback form.

The task force will share their recommendation with city council at a special meeting on July 25.

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