The Town of Smithers officially broke ground on the new arena July 16.

The Town of Smithers officially broke ground on the new arena July 16.

New arena breaks ground

Town of Smithers councillors and officials, contractors and members of the public gathered to break ground for the new arena.

Construction has now started on Smithers’ second sheet of ice.

On July 16, Town of Smithers councillors and officials, contractors and members of the public gathered to break ground for the project that has been in the works for more than 20 years.

“As Counc. Adomeit says, this is officially the end of if and the beginning of how,” Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach said.

The first step in the building process is to pre-load the site, said Rob Trampuh, owner of Timber Peak Construction, one of the local contractors on the project. This prep work will take between one and six months, he said.

But what the finished project will look like is not yet set in stone. Of the $4.7 million budget, $400,000 must still be raised by the community.

Despite this formidable hurdle, Bachrach said he was confident the project would be finished on time and on budget.

“One thing the past has shown us, when you look at the past of Smithers, is when the community gets behind a project there’s no stopping it,” he said.

“We’ve achieved some incredible things in our 100 years of history and I’m absolutely confident the community’s going to get behind this project and we’re going to pull it off in great form.”

The arena is being designed and constructed by C & M Development Inc. from Nanaimo, with the assistance of a number of local contractors, which is another reason Bachrach said he has faith in the project.

“One of the things that gives council the confidence to pull off this project is the fact so many people have skin in the game and we’re going to be harnessing so much of the talent of this community,” he said.

Councillor Mark Bandstra, who sits on the advisory committee working with the builder to keep the arena on budget, said the finished project will be exactly what they were looking for — a second sheet of ice.

“It’s not going to be overdone,” he said.

“It’s not a Taj Mahal. It will be a very good functioning other sheet of ice for our residents.”

Outside of the health benefits of having more people being able to access a skating arena, Bandstra said the town could also reap huge economic gains once the facility is operational.

“[The new arena] is important for our community, economically,” he said.

“We need drivers to bring people to our community.”

Until the structure starts going up, the advisory committee will be working closely with the builder and architect to bring the drawings to completion, Bandstra said.

“We need to make sure we have a functioning arena at the end of this,” he said.

“But it has to be on budget.”