Originally proposed as an ice arena only, expansion of amenities and services have increased costs and delayed the opening. (Facebook Photo)

Upper Skeena Rec Centre’s opening delayed

More money needed as vision expands beyond original plan

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine board has authorized staff to proceed with creating a Capital Reserve Fund for the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre in Hazelton.

The opening of the centre has been delayed from this summer as more money is required to proceed with construction.

Originally proposed as an ice arena only, expansion of amenities and services increased the capital and projected operating costs.

The current estimated cost is $21.4 million, which includes construction, commissioning and startup. The original cost was approximately $16 million. The increase is a result of expanding the facilities offered at the arena.

“It’s now gone from being an ice arena to [also] a gymnasium fitness facility and a meeting room, so it’s now a leisure centre… [it’s a] big difference, that was never imagined in the beginning,” says Ron Poole, chief administrative officer at the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS). “People start with an idea and as it starts to move along, people get more and more involved and they get bigger ideas.”

The new Northern Capital and Planning Grant program is an option to fill the money gap, but a Capital Reserve Fund is required to be set up first in order to be eligible.

READ MORE: Upper Skeena Rec Centre could be biomass heated

Poole adds the operating costs such as heating and lighting were a lot higher than they expected, especially during their three-month trial testing the ice rink.

“[We will also be] paying for the heat, light, electrical, gas, and all those bills are ongoing for life. That’s where the challenges come in, because we’re now trying to pay to operate a much bigger facility,” says Poole. “We’re hoping to get into an 18-month operating agreement, and continue to move down there so that this becomes more sustainable.”

In Oct. 2017, the Owners Partnership Committee for the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre, with officials from the province, held their official groundbreaking ceremony. The RDKS was a key collaborator in working with the committee to help make the centre happen, along with donations and grants from local First Nations.

READ MORE: Kitselas First Nation moves ahead with development plans

Poole says the Upper Skeena Recreation Centre is an important investment into the community, as it’s more than just a place to do sports — it’s a gathering and meeting spot for residents in the area. Previously, there was an old arena that stood in its place but the decaying structure had to be torn down for safety reasons.

“The old arena was really the heart of the Hazletons… they don’t have the services that Terrace or Smithers has,” says Poole.

“You can see this place is where people are going to eat [in the cafeteria], and whether you play hockey, or basketball or work out, just being in the facility [is important to them] and seeing the people in the community… I think people are really looking forward to it again.”

An official opening date has yet to be announced, but Poole says they are working to hopefully open their doors this fall.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Terrace RCMP respond to firearms call on South Side

One person arrested without incident

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine office in Terrace is now open to the public

The office has been closed since March 17 due to COVID-19

New technology is helping battle avalanches near Stewart

The automated avalanche detection system just finished a successful first season

BC Hydro studying new power connection in northwest B.C.

Would supply hydro-electric power to planned LNG plant at Kitimat

City increasing maximum business license fine

Maximum unlikely to ever be used, according to City

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach urges feds to compensate airline passengers

Letter to transport minister touches on Northwest B.C. tourism operators impacted by COVID-19

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Most Read