New site found for Iqaluit’s new AWG arena

A new site for Iqaluit’s second arena will cut about $900,000 off the building’s construction costs.



IQALUIT – Organizers for the 2002 Arctic Winter Games in Iqaluit plan to build a new arena and youth centre in the town’s east end, after the discovery of a buried water pipe derailed plans to add the new structure to the town’s existing arena.

The Iqaluit steering committee charged with overseeing the construction of the new arena have approved a site located east of Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik and the future French school, just south of the Apex road.

The arena is expected to be a venue for hockey, figure skating and other sports during the Iqaluit-based portion of the 2002 games. The building will also include 3,000 square feet of space for a youth centre.

Organizers originally planned to add a second arena onto the existing arena in downtown Iqaluit. That plan received approval in principle earlier this year from Iqaluit Town Council.

But organizers had to scramble to find potential new sites after town officials found that an essential water main lay directly beneath the first proposed site.

Moving the main was expected to boost construction costs by approximately $320,000, while new arena was initially expected to cost about $3.5 million.

Earlier this month, Dennis Patterson, a member of the steering committee, presented town councillors with a new plan, saying organizers can’t afford to move the water main.

“We can’t afford to do the work that’s necessary,” Patterson said.

The new site and design is expected to cost about $900,000 less than the original plan. That means that construction of the new facility is now estimated at only $2.66 million, Patterson said, explaining the new site requires less preparation and has a cheaper design.

“It’s a much easier site to build on,” Patterson said.

So far, organizers have raised about $1 million in cash and in-kind donations for the project.

But some councillors question the location, which they say is remote and subject to poor road conditions.

“That area is the first area to close in the town. This is just not accessible enough to the people that we represent,” said Coun. Geosah Uniuqsaraq.

Coun. Lynda Gunn said lower-income families may not have transportation to access the new arena and youth centre.

But Coun. John Matthews said it makes sense to build a second arena in an area close to schools and new residential areas.

“If we look at the map and the way the town is developing, there’s just hundreds and hundreds of people who are living in that subdivision with kids,” Matthews said.

Patterson said many of the same arguments were made when Joamie School was planned. But he said he believes the location is ideal, given its proximity to schools and parking.

The Iqaluit District Education Authority has also given its blessing to the use of lands reserved by the Department of Education. Patterson said Nunavut’s minister of education will likely have to give final approval.

AWG organizers hope to begin construction of the new building this year.

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