BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
The engineering firm that carried out the most recent study on the Cochenour Arena points to an “accelerated rate of deterioration” and “significant safety concerns in the building,” but municipal CAO Mark Vermette says staff is taking every precaution to keep the building and its users safe.
“In the review we completed in 2013 we noted significant wood rot in the roof construction. Our review of the observations made last year indicated to us that moisture above the roof and the associated rotting is systematic, progressive and accelerating. Our observations this year confirm this condition to us,” reads the August 2014 report by Boge and Boge Ltd. “…In a few places the plywood is rotted right through and has lost significant load carrying capacity.”
The report details a number of other issues including the heaving and settling of the floor slab, a deformed canopy on the exterior of the building, the deterioration of the outside stairs, as well as the flaking of the fire-resistant ceiling paint which falls off and lands on the benches and the ice below.
Vermette agrees with Boge and Boge that the flaking paint has the potential to pose a safety risk to arena users, but says that municipal staff has stepped up its measures in evaluating the ice.
“If there’s any indication that there are any chips or a flake that might fall down, then we’ll be more diligent in evaluating the ice. To date, I can tell you that there’s been no concern, and if there was, that Low-E ceiling actually acts as a bit of a barrier. I’ve been on the ice several times—between myself and my family, we’re on the ice 12-15 times a week collectively—and there’s absolutely no concern.”
After the report was completed, council sat down with the engineer and came up with a plan in regards to the engineer’s eight recommendations.
“It’s a monitoring thing…we do understand that the arena is nearing its end life…we really need to evaluate our current facility. Is there an opportunity to renovate? We can’t do Band-Aids. We have to be sure that whatever we build or renovate is a sustainable facility that’s going to have minimal impact on rate payers.”
“We would shut it down if it’s a safety concern. However, we need to take measures to make sure it’s safe and that people can continue to use it from late fall to late spring,” says Vermette. “At the end of the day, the community will have input through some engagement and dialogue. So the community will have some input on what we need. Is it a renovation to our existing facility? We don’t know that, but we need to research that. Is it a stand-alone arena somewhere, you know, in Balmertown, perhaps attached to the Goldcorp recreation facility? Or is a stand-alone new events centre wherever that location might be?”
Attached to the end of Boge and Boge’s report is council’s own recommendations and maintenance plan. The first work to be carried out will be an evaluation of the plywood the week of Nov. 17. An engineer is booked for Jan. 20 for inspection. This work will not interrupt the arena users’ schedules.
Municipal staff is also working on a master maintenance plan which will be applicable to all its facilities. It will be tweaked for each individual building and will outline regular inspections and measures that can be taken with the intention of avoiding bigger issues down the road.
“It’s like getting oil changes for your vehicle. If you follow that maintenance plan you’re likely going to get more life out of your vehicle.”
The capital budget for the Cochenour arena this year was $56,500. The 2014 Boge and Boge study cost $9,774.”