BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
Red Lake council has accepted an engineering consultant’s report on the Cochenour Arena that outlines extensive renovations that will keep it operational for another five to nine years.
“If we do not do the necessary upgrades, the arena will not be not be open with Boge and Boge’s stamp of approval,” expressed municipal CAO Mark Vermette at the April 11 Committee of the Whole meeting.
Boge and Boge has been working with the Municipality on the Cochenour Arena since 2009. In a June 2015 report, the engineering firm said that without an intervention within the next 12 months, they would issue an opinion that the arena not be occupied.
The completed engineered drawings provide for roof removal and replacement with a metal insulated system. The estimated cost is $1.65 million (+/- 10 per cent) plus HST.
Boge and Boge also did some preliminary work to estimate the cost of adding capacity to the current dehumidification system. They anticipate the additional costs to come in at around $60,000 plus HST.
“The purpose would be to reduce condensation and consequent dripping. There will be times when this dripping can be expected from under the new roof construction,” reads a letter dated April 6.
Vermette noted that there are currently two alternatives to not completing the renovations: seek another opinion from an alternate engineering firm, which would create time delays and risk the arena not opening on time, or at all, for the 2016-17 season; or not complete the repairs, close the arena, and seek alternative venues for arena users such as driving to Ear Falls or Vermilion Bay, or exploring ways to further utilize outdoor rink facilities.
“If the arena doesn’t open in September, it probably won’t ever open. Quite likely it goes to redundant status and our future will be weighed on our ability to attract new funding for a new facility located elsewhere. My experience tells me that that could be anywhere from three to six years,” said Mayor Phil Vinet on April 11.
Councillor Fred Mota and Councillor Carol Baron agreed with Vinet about the significance of the arena to many members of the community.
“I hate to put good money into a place that we’re going to maybe not use after a period of time. I like to see money put into a new facility, but we can’t do that right now under the circumstances,” said Baron.
Although council has accepted Boge and Boge’s report, the next step is to go through a Request for Proposal process, followed by an awarding process; a procedure that Vinet expects will take an estimated 10 extra days. Vermette made it clear, however, that moving forward on the renovations as soon as possible was a “top priority.”
The renovations are expected to take 12-14 weeks to complete, which would have the arena ready for use at the beginning of the 2016-17 season.