Fundraising for new arena at $4 million

A recent fundraiser for the tentatively named New Upper Skeena Arena brought in more than $100,000.

A recent fundraiser for the tentatively named New Upper Skeena Arena brought in more than $100,000; bringing the total amount of donations, or donation commitments to about $4 million.

New Hazelton councillor and chair of the Heart of the Hazeltons campaign Peter Newbery said so far the community has really pulled their weight.

“There is an enormous determination in the community to make this happen. All of us on the owner’s committee are determined to see it through. I’m optimistic that we’ll get the funding and the plans we are committed to are going ahead,” he said.

The owner’s committee is made up of representatives of the municipalities, the regional district, the Gitxsan Treaty Organization and the Gitksan Government Commission.

The total cost of the arena is about $10 million. Newbery said normally with a major infrastructure project like this, the community would raise a third, the province would give a third and the federal government would kick in a third of the price.

He hasn’t heard yet from the provincial and federal governments about their share of funding and if they will contribute, but the community has now raised more than its share in a traditional infrastructure formula.

He said they will continue their local fundraising effort in case they don’t get enough money from the other levels of governments.

Newbery isn’t sure if the arena will be ready for the 2015 winter season as originally planned.

The old arena has outlived its usefulness. However, it will still be used for this upcoming winter season. 

The plan for the old arena is to put a new roof on it and turn it into an indoor recreation site. Plans have not been developed yet for this phase and depends on funding.

The new recreation centre will be built beside it. The plan is to build an NHL-sized arena with seating for 500 people.