Province denies arena improvement application

Plans to upgrade the arena have hit a roadblock courtesy of the provincial government.

Coun. Andy Adams announced at Tuesday’s council meeting that the Strathcona Regional District’s grant application for improvements to Rod Brind’Amour Arena was denied.

The Strathcona Regional District applied in January for a $400,000 grant from the British Columbia Community Recreation Fund, which supports local recreation projects.

Adams said the city got involved with the arena project after council decided to withdraw the city’s application to the program for an all-weather field at Robron Park.

“We withdrew our application knowing the financial situation at the city was tight,” Adams said.

“We did that to shift our support to the Strathcona Regional District in their application for a much-needed replacement for the Rod Brind’Amour Arena floor.

Unfortunately that grant was not accepted, which was extremely disappointing.”

The project is estimated at $968,000.

The regional district set aside $1.1 million in its 2012 budget, and was hopeful the provincial government would come through to support $400,000 of the work.

Rod Brind’Amour Arena, the larger of the two arenas at Strathcona Gardens and home to the Campbell River Storm, is in poor condition and needs immediate attention to the floor, boards and brine lines, said facilities manager Josie Rohne.

Brian Reardon, chief administrative officer of the regional district, last month stressed the importance of the grant.

“If this project is not completed soon, it is expected that there will be catastrophic failure of the concrete slab which will render the arena inoperable,” he said.

Adams said as soon as the grant application was denied, he met with Reardon, Liberal Comox Valley MLA Don McRae, and City Manager Andy Laidlaw to discuss options.

He said all parties decided to contest the decision.

“We will be launching an appeal on that Community Recreation Grant application on behalf of the Strathcona Regional District,” Adams told council.

“That’s where we’re at and hopefully we’ll be successful.”

If they’re not, several arena user groups and public ice programming could become vulnerable.

“Currently this ice surface is used 1,930 hours per year for youth activities and 423 hours per year for adult groups,” Reardon said.

“If arena number one failed there would be nowhere else for these displaced groups to go as the other full-sized ice space at Strathcona Gardens is also booked to capacity.”

Construction on the arena was slated for between April and September of 2013.

Rohne had predicted a $22,000 loss in revenue during the five-month closure of the arena.

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