Cambridge Bay’s old arena reopens; new arena still on hold
Rink had been closed since last winter, on-and-off since 2018
The Cambridge Bay arena is now open to the public for the first time this year.
The rink was reflooded, and a free public skate to celebrate the reopening was held Monday afternoon and evening.
The arena, which sits across the road from the Cambridge Bay Health Centre, was closed in 2018 due to air quality concerns and mould issues, but was reopened for use last winter.
The facility is being used temporarily for recreation while the community awaits construction of a new arena.
With funding support from the Government of Nunavut, the hamlet raised $6 million to construct a new arena on the edge of town.
That project is paused, however, after a series of roadblocks interrupted construction, including the COVID-19 pandemic and potential issues with the permafrost beneath the arena.
“It’s difficult to build an arena in a climate like Nunavut’s with that type of a budget,” said Jim MacEachern, chief administrative officer for the hamlet.
“Then you add on top of that COVID, which really slowed everything down and then drastically increased all of the cost. So that’s why it’s been put on hold, because we need to source additional funding,” he said.
A shell of the arena has already been built and most of the equipment needed to complete it is already in the community, MacEachern said.
“The icemaking equipment, the bleachers, a lot of the internal structure is already here. So once we get that better understanding of what the finished product will cost, and once we get that funding, then the materials are already here so it’s not waiting on more barges and sealift seasons,” he said.
Getting the new arena finished is a “top priority item” for the hamlet council, he said.
Engineers and architects will be coming in the spring to do an on-site assessment of the arena to determine if the foundation is solid enough to continue building.
MacEachern said the hamlet is applying for assistance to a federal government’s green infrastructure fund to help move construction forward.
He’s confident that if the site assessment goes well, construction on the arena could resume this summer.
“Nobody wants an empty shell just sitting there. Everyone wants to work together to make sure that it happens,” he said.
“Once we get that full picture of where it’s at and where it needs to go, then the next step is to have a community consultation so that everyone in the community is aware of exactly where we’re at, and then what timelines are going forward.”