City eyes extensive repairs to Cliff McNabb Arena

$1.6 million expenditure planned to upgrade 17-year-old rink

City hall will request a $400,000 grant from the B.C. Community Recreation Program with the intent of using the money to renovate the deteriorating Cliff McNabb Arena.

The overall cost of the renovation is expected to be about $1.6 million, with the balance paid through the city’s facility development reserve fund.

Without the grant, the entire bill would be paid out of the reserve fund, which would force other capital projects to be pushed back.

“The fund generates about $800,000 to $1 million a year,” said Richard Harding, director for parks, recreation and culture. “This [project], for next year, would drain the facility development fund, so this grant would definitely help with some other projects we have planned.”

Recommended improvements to the 17-year-old arena include a new roof, repairing walls to eliminate air leakage, improving air flow and ventilation within the building, replacing an aging chiller and upgrading the dehumidification system.

Coun. Bill Bestwick said air exchange improvements must also be considered.

“In my opinion, this project doesn’t go far enough,” he said. “$1.6 million is more than it cost to build this structure in the first place. If we wish to get 17 more years out of it, then we have to spend this money. It’s already paid for itself over and over and over again.”

Elemental Architecture was the top ranked proponent through a request for proposals that went out in October. The company has extensive experience with arenas and civic facilities, including the Pitt Meadows Arena, Richmond Olympic Oval and Killarney Community Centre.

Though the province is providing $30 million through it’s recreation program grant, it is asking municipalities to cap requests at $400,000 to allow for an even distribution of funds throughout the province.

The project will go before council on Dec. 12 when the 2012 budget is introduced.

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com