The groundbreaking event Tuesday to mark City of Chilliwack’s new arena addition and third sheet of ice featured both snow and rain showers.
Ice shavings scraped from the rink were gleefully raised in the air by dignitaries breaking ground at the celebration with golden shovels.
The $8-million arena addition announced by Mayor Sharon Gaetz will be built over the next year by n.Wallace & Co. at the Twin Rinks site.
“The need was identified in 2003,” Gaetz said, explaining that funds were put aside for the project over the past 10 years, as part of comprehensive recreation planning.
“When this is actually finished being built, it will be completely paid for. There will be no debt incurred,” Gaetz said.
The facility is being renamed the Sardis Sports Complex.
The new ice sheet will bring the city’s total ice rinks up to five, counting the two at Prospera Centre. Also the tennis court location is shifting and brand-new tennis courts are being built across the way.
“So this is a really good day for people who like to keep active lifestyles, and who enjoy either tennis or hockey,” Gaetz said.
The need for more ice surface in Chilliwack was underlined in the 2014-2023 Parks, Recreation & Culture Master Plan after extensive public consultation. Ongoing growth in youth sports and recreational hockey has made the additional sheet of ice a priority for city officials.
Council accepted the proposal to build the Twin Rinks Arena Addition Project from n.Wallace & Company Ltd. on March 20, 2018.
The new addition is going to mean more ice time availability for a range of user groups, from minor and adult hockey, to figure skating, speed skating, old-timers’ hockey and ringette.
Mike Kinar is on the board of directors of Chilliwack Ringette Association. The new ice sheet is highly anticipated by his group’s members.
“It will mean we get a lot more ice time for the athletes to play on. So we’ll get a lot more quality times as well,” Kinar said. “It’s tough we are a new association in Chilliwack. It’s our second year in Chilliwack. Our numbers are growing and as we grow it will become more of a challenge.”
Increasing current ice allocations will also expand the potential for these community programs to grow.
Leo Valentine of Chilliwack Senior Hockey said the old-timers have been playing on the ice at the existing arena since 1980.
“We get on the ice twice a week. We are either here or at the Jolly Miller,” Valentine said with a laugh.
“It will create more recreational opportunities for Chilliwack families and supplement our existing facilities,” Mayor Gaetz said. “I look forward to watching youth sports continue to grow in Chilliwack and hope this addition may even help foster some of the future Chilliwack Chiefs!”
The arena will feature seating for about 500, five-team dressing rooms, an officials’ room, a canteen, washrooms and a large multi-purpose space.
The project is anticipated to reach substantial completion by Spring 2019.