Sports Palace upgrade raises concerns

Costs to replace the concrete slab and dasher boards at the Ice Palace in High Prairie are pegged at just over $1.2 million. The arena is the home to figure skating, local minor hockey and the High Prairie Red Wings junior hockey team. The file photo shows Red Wing player Paydin Young, left, carry the puck as Fox Creek Ice King players Brady Sernes, right, and Cody Waller, middle, close in on the play in action Feb. 3 in High Prairie.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Major upgrades to the aging Sports Palace arena in High Prairie are estimated to exceed $1.2 million.
At its regular meeting Aug. 9, Town of High Prairie council approved a recommendation to support the tender to remove and replace the concrete slab and dasher boards to Bry Sand Ice Arena Ltd, for an amount not to exceed $1,205,223 on condition that Big Lakes County contributes 50 per cent of the cost.
Big Lakes council plans to discuss the recommendation at its regular meeting Aug. 24 in order for the town to award the contract by Aug. 29.
The recommendation was presented by the joint recreation committee for the town and county.
Planned to be completed before the 2023-24 winter season, the work is needed for the arena to function, High Prairie recreation superintendent Ramona Rollins says in a report to council.
“The refrigerated slab in the Sports Palace is far past its life expectancy and it is currently in need of urgent repairs,” Rollins says.
“The facility is structurally sound but it is very unlikely that the current refrigerated slab will be capable of sustaining one more winter season.”
A request for proposal to remove and replace the Sports Palace refrigerated concrete slab and dasher boards was issued on the Alberta Purchasing Connection website on May 4 with a closing date of June 30.
The town received two proposal from ice arena floor experts.
If town and county loaders and gravel trucks are used in the project, Bry Sand’s quote will be reduced for waste removal, Rollins says. Councillor Donna Deynaka voted against the motion.
“I’m struggling with this, that we are planning to spend $1.2 million on an aging facility,” Deynaka says.
“The arena is about 60 years.
“What is the lifespan of the arena?”
Mayor Brian Panasiuk says others share her concern.
“That’s the same concern from the joint recreation committee,” Panasiuk says.
A report says the proposed upgrade could extend the life of the arena another 15 years, he adds.
“Hopefully we can get some grant funding,” Panasiuk says.
“We can hopefully reduce costs by using town and county trucks.”
Councillor James Waikle suggests the work could extend the life of the arena longer.
“The building itself is solid,” Waikle says.
“The new pad might last another 60 years.”
To reduce town and county costs for the project, Deynaka suggests community fundraising would help.
“Lets make people aware about what we’re facing.,” Deynaka says.
“Lets get the community involved in supporting it.
“Maybe somebody will have a bottle drive, a bake sale.”
Panasiuk says user groups such as High Prairie Minor Hockey Association and High Prairie Skating Club could be asked to help raise funds.
Waikle suggests the High Prairie Red Wings junior hockey club could also assist to raise funds at its home games.

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