Councillors to vote on whether to spend thousands or millions

Decision expected soon on AWG renovation

By CHRIS WINDEYER

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fter years of languishing without a second ice surface, Iqaluit is on the brink of a decision about the future of the Arctic Winter Games arena that could mean spending anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars

Speakers at a public hearing Sept. 9 overwhelmingly favoured the city going ahead with plans to repair the arena's sinking floor, though some members of the city's youth centre, which operates out of the AWG, are pulling for an indoor soccer facility.

Siobhan Moss told councillors the old Arnaitok arena "is struggling to survive" because of demands for ice time.

And the city's recreation director, Mike Courtney, read into the record letters from figure skating and speed skating groups stating that ice time is too scarce and the ice surface too small and rough for those sports.

In May, consulting firm Trow Associates issued a preliminary report to the city's economic development committee that outlines options for fixing the floor.

John Hussey, Iqaluit's senior administrative officer, doesn't want to talk technical details, but said the city has three options: spend a lot of money up front, with minimal maintenance costs, spend a little up front, but continue to pay for constant repairs, or a compromise version that lands somewhere in the middle.

The process would likely involve digging up the section of the rink's concrete pad that's sinking into the tundra and reinforcing the ground beneath.

The cost would range from a couple of hundred thousand dollars to a "Cadillac plan of a couple of million."

Hussey said he expects a motion at the next city council meeting to give city staff the go-ahead on a repair project.

"The second motion that has to follow that is ‘how much money do you want to spend to fix it?'" he said.

The city may also get some private sector help paying for the repairs. Kieran O'Sullivan, who manages the city's Northmart store, told councillors the Northwest Company is interested in "funding aspects of the repairs, keeping it as a functioning arena" but did not give details.

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