Smithers scores $650K for new arena

The Province of British Columbia announced Saturday morning the towns of Smithers and Telkwa received a combined $923,928 in funding.

The Province of British Columbia put some very happy smiles on the faces of the mayors of Smithers and Telkwa Saturday morning, when it was announced the two municipalities would receive a combined $923,928 in funding.

The funding, from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, will be used for a new arena in Smithers and a community field in Telkwa.

The biggest piece of the pie, $650,000, is earmarked for the construction of an arena in Smithers, next to the aging Civic Centre Arena.

“This is certainly a positive step forward,” Mayor of Smithers, Taylor Bachrach said.

“It’s really exciting.”

In addition to the standard amenities of an ice-hockey rink, the arena will also include changing rooms for referees, a room for the figure skating club, storage and 350-person spectator area.

With the new funding, council now has close to $3 million tucked aside for the construction of a new arena.

Some of the funds are from a previous provincial grant, as well as local fundraising and a recent commitment from the Vancouver Canucks to chip in $250,000, Bachrach explained.

Despite having close to $3 million for a new arena, Bachrach said there are still many steps that have to be taken before construction of the new arena can begin.

Foremost, council has yet to give the go ahead for the proposed new rink, although Ida Chong, minister of community, sport and cultural development did say she wanted to see the projects started sooner rather than later, Bachrach said.

Council is also waiting to hear from the consultants charged with firming up the specifications of the proposed arena that would fall within the budget.

Telkwa, received $273,928 toward the refurbishment of the soccer field at the barbecue grounds.  The total cost of the project is $339,000 and the Village of Telkwa will contribute $60,000 to make up the difference.

It is hoped the community fields will allow Telkwa sports teams to practice and compete locally.

“We anticipate the upgrades will be finished for the summer of 2013,” Carmen Graf, mayor of Telkwa said.

The upgrades to the soccer field include the installation of an underground sprinkler system as well as a leveling and re-seeding of the field.

Funds for the two projects come from the province’s Community Recreation program which funds up to 80 per cent of eligible costs designated to enhance the infrastructure of community recreation facilities.

“These projects will have broad-reaching benefits for Smithers and Telkwa for years to come,” Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Ida Chong said.

“Amenities like arenas and sports fields are often the hub of smaller communities.

“They encourage locals to get out and get fit and provide opportunities for visiting teams to come to the community for games.