City of Iqaluit celebrates arena upgrades

Arnaitok Arena opens for the season with new boards

Noah Cooper, 8, and his sister Anningnii-Marie Cooper, 10, cut a ribbon, held by Deputy Mayor Romeyn Stevenson, for the opening of Iqaluit’s renovated Arnaitok Arena. (Photo by Beth Brown)

By Beth Brown

Four-year-old Niko Senkow has been learning to skate since he was two—but his ice skills should be better-honed in a few months, since he’s planning to practise skating at least once a week at Iqaluit’s Arnaitok Arena.

Christine Senkow and her son Niko Senkow, 4, enjoy a free public skate at the recently re-opened Arnaitok Arena on Friday, Jan. 11. (Photo by Beth Brown)

The young Iqaluit resident was one of the first skaters on the ice last Friday, Jan. 11, when the newly renovated arena opened for the year.

“It’s bright, it’s such a nice happy feeling,” said his mother, Christine Senkow, who favours the Arnaitok Arena because of its downtown location.

Until now, all ice activities in town had been happening at the Arctic Winter Games Arena on the Apex Road.

That’s while the City of Iqaluit replaced the Arnaitok Arena’s rink boards and glass, and installed ceiling-high netting that will make the arena a safer space for viewers in the stands.

“We were really happy to replace the boards this year. The old boards were pretty worn out,” said the city’s acting chief administrative officer, Amy Elgersma. “It’s a high-use rink, which contributes to wear and tear. It’s a popular facility.”

The new boards cost $596,048.

The arena itself was built in the 1970s, and last saw renovations in the 1990s, Elgersma said.

“The new boards meet today’s standards. They’re taller, the glass is higher. We were able to improve safety by installing new netting all the way to the ceiling.”

A Friday afternoon free-skate kicked off a full weekend of programming at Arnaitok. Noah Cooper, 8, and his sister Anningnii-Marie Cooper, 10, cut a ribbon for the opening of the event. And skaters enjoyed hot cocoa and a chocolate cake decorated to look like the rink.

“We love our hockey tournaments, speed skating competitions and figure skating events,” Elgersma said. “Now we have a lot more ice time available.”

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