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 reopened to the public on Monday with a community skate, hamlet staff announced on Facebook earlier this week. (Photo by Madalyn Howitt)

By Madalyn Howitt

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.

ITK Job Opportunties, Senior Policy Advisor, MMIWG

“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.

Baffin Business Development Corporation Annual General Meeting

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.”


Share This Story

(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by YCO on

    what there mayors and mlas been doing all these years thought they would have there new arena build already

    • Posted by The Community Members Suffer on

      I’ve heard things around town. The whisperings are that the problems were caused by the hubris of a former employee who thought they could do a better job than CGS, and then ran through $6m in no time.

  2. Posted by Any more to the story? on

    I think there’s more to explore with this story. Why would anyone think they could build an arena for 6M, even if it’s not on par with the one put up in Rankin Inlet for 30M.

    The Rankin Inlet arena, years ago cost nearly 30M. In today’s cost i’m sure that’s pushing 40M +. Who was the project management lead that thought it was a good idea to attempt a build on 6M? Was the project management outsourced or kept in-house? What costing was done to reach the 6M? Obviously it wasn’t a turnkey price or the builder would have been held to it, and we would either have an arena or a bankrupt builder, from what I can see Cambridge Bay has no arena and there was no overall builder contracted.

    I think there’s more to the story because it should be used as a cautionary tale, not to stain the previous administrations’ reputation further. There’s no need to do that, the shell of an arena already says enough.

    Another interesting addition to the story would be to see how much work was given out to local business in town to date, and of those businesses, which of them have leaders on Hamlet Council. It would be neat to see how a project that clearly had no hope with a 6M dollar budget got approved and passed through council, and then subsequently see if any of those council members benefited significantly. That would make for a good news story.

  3. Posted by Go figure!! on

    I know Rankin arena was costly, but hey we did get help from Agnico. Our neighbor on the south has an arena, which I understand hasn’t been utilized for couple years due to no certified/wiliness of a maintenance person to get the boilers fixed!!!

  4. Posted by Hmmmmm on

    The obvious responsibility lies with the former SAO who now oversees the NAM and the former mayor who now oversees the education of all Nunavumiut, neither seemed to have had the foresight to see the decisions being made would bankrupt the municipality. The incompetence is shocking and puts the hamlet in serious struggles. Good thing the fish art studio was so sustainable and important so that those generations of kids who will not be able to skate, play hockey or simply do something healthy in the winter will be able to watch the art makers grow old. Oh, wait, I hear it’s closed too.


Comments are closed.