New arena project takes another step forward

Smithers council finally received the much anticipated geo-technical study for the planned construction of a second arena.

Smithers council finally received the much anticipated geo-technical study for the planned construction of a second arena.

The study, three months overdue, was presented to council last week in a Committee of the Whole meeting by chief geotech engineer, Dixie Simon.

Simon said the delay was due to laboratory testing taking longer than expected.

“I’m not quite sure why that was but the results were more than a month late,” Simon said.

“Then there was quite a lot of time spent finding information about the existing structures, which didn’t come up until after the report was due.”

The study, outlines the possible solutions for the new arena’s foundation.

Smithers has always had issues with foundations due to it’s soft soil base because it is built over a lake, Simon said

To ensure a solid foundation with the least impact on the existing arena and pool, Simon had to investigate the stability of the area and what method would fit the $4-million budget.

“The analysis was a bit tricky because we’re looking at a structure such as the existing arena with no knowledge of it’s foundation,” Simon explained.

The study recommends using a pre-load method of construction where a layer of gravel and dirt is put down and allowed to settle for six months before a concrete foundation can be poured.

The lateness of the study caused some frustration among the second sheet of ice committee because the time-line for the project is pushed back by six months.

If pre-loading is required, it should have been conducted this past fall to pour the foundation in the spring.

“I think we have to understand there’s a procedure to go through and the engineering report, the positive thing is the pre-load will work,” chair of the second sheet of ice committee, Al McCreary said.

Council also discussed the operating costs of the second arena and the possibility of the regional district, electoral A and Telkwa being contributors.

Initially the Town of Smithers and local contributions would make up one-third of the project funds and the remainder secured from the provincial and federal governments.

But the federal funding never came.

The B.C. government has contributed another $600,000 as well as the Aquilini family, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, contributed $250,000 in support of Danny Hamhuis.

To date $3.6 million has been secured for the project, with up to $300,000 to be raised, not to mention the undetermined operating costs of the facility.

Although a large portion of the arena users live outside of town boundaries, the idea of sharing operating costs is not well received.

“I can understand Smithers has some concerns about the operating costs of the new arena,” Stoney Stoltenberg said.

“But it’s still an added burden on the taxpayers because arenas are subsidized and Smithers would like to get some subsidy from the people who live in Electoral Area A to help offset the operating costs.”

Still Smithers Mayor, Taylor Bachrach was optimistic about the project going ahead as planned, after council approved a motion to go to the next phase of the project and issue a tender for construction in the new year.

 

 

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