At this time, the province is unable to help restore the damaged Sunshine Coast Arena in Sechelt, advised Ida Chong, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, during a visit to the Sunshine Coast, July 27.
“They’re still speculating. They think the whole cost would be about a million or two, but then again, how much would they be responsible for?” she asked. “Right now it’s difficult to know what costs, what assistance or financial support they’d be looking for.”
Chong completed a tour of the Coast last Friday, stopping at the Sechelt Aquatic Centre and arena, as well as inspecting facilities in Gibsons like the Town’s new RCMP building and geo-exchange infrastructure.
Local officials have not yet speculated on the potential cost of bringing the arena back into service.
The facility closed its doors April 15 after a pressurized heating pipe in the underpad burst, causing damage to vital equipment and the concrete slab.
It was later confirmed that user groups would be forced to share the one ice surface in Gibsons, beginning this fall.
As of press time, officials were still awaiting an overdue response from their insurance company as to whether the damage will be covered.
Chong’s advice was to make as many preparations as possible in the hope that a provincial or federal funding opportunity might present itself.
“I said they certainly needed to get numbers that were firm,” she said, adding that a shovel-ready application would likely see more success than a plan still in the making.
“You should always have your basic work done. The smaller communities have a bigger challenge because they don’t always have matching dollars available … you can’t tax enough. It all comes down to when a program is available. We always have more ask than there is money for. But we try to make sure that we spread it around.”
Recreation manager Bruce Bauman would not speculate on a possible price tag for the repair, saying only “it’s a very expensive project. We have ballpark numbers, but you never know what this stuff is going to cost until you actually put it out to tender,” he said.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District board recently approved a list of projects they will be seeking match funding for through the Community Infrastructure Improve-ment Fund (CIIF).
Their applications will likely include bike path improvements on Marine Drive in Langdale, a sound weakening project for the Gibsons and Area Community Centre and repairs at the Sechelt Aquatic Centre.
The CIIF’s deadline is Aug. 2, and approved funding is required to be matched by local government.
With regards to the arena, officials are focused on what news the insurance company will bring.
“What [Chong] did indicate was that they will be looking, as they go forward into the fiscal year, to see if there’s any money that could be available,” Bauman added. “But at this point, there’s nothing.”