Saanich is asking the federal and provincial governments to help pay for improvements to Pearkes Recreation Centre.
Pending council approval, Saanich is applying to the Community, Culture, and Recreation (CCR) Program, a joint federal/provincial initiative, to help fund the first phase of proposed improvements to Gold Arena, the name of the original rink that opened in October 1968. The rink – which accounts for about one-third of the entire complex – has been showing its age for some time.
According to staff documents, the requested grant will cover 73 per cent of the total cost, with Saanich covering the remaining 27 per cent – or $2.65 million – of the remaining project. The total value of the first phase is $9.81 million.
Pearkes manager Graham Thomson said the project addresses, among other concerns, the immediate need to replace the slab of Pearkes’ Gold Arena. He said it will ensure the long term viability of the arena’s operation.
“We should find out by summer 2019 if our grant application is approved,” he said. “If successful in our funding request, we are committed to working with our user groups and regional partners to minimize the impact on their offerings.”
Other improvements would include improvements to the facility’s accessibility features including a new elevator, ramp to the field house, dressing rooms and access to the Gold Arena ice surface and energy efficiency improvements including heat recovery from the ice plant for other parts.
The funding, if approved, would not add a third rink to the facility.
The second phase of the proposed improvements would include a full seismic upgrade to the Gold Arena.
Saanich’s share for the first phase of the project would come from the facilities major repair and replacement reserve fund, which had a balance of almost $8.3 million on Dec. 31, 2017. It was set to reach more than $11.7 million by the end of 2018, according to a staff report.
The funding request exists independently of efforts by Spectrum Community School to add a rink, but nonetheless relates to it. If Saanich were to improve Gold Arena, it would leave the community with one public, Saanich-owned rink – a threatening scenario for Saanich Minor Hockey Association said its president, David Horricks.
“Without an alternative rink, when the Gold rink goes down, the association goes down,” Horricks said earlier. “We have to get that message to the council. Saanich Minor Hockey would close, you can’t run it with one rink, it’s impossible. You need a certain threshold of kids in order to populate all the age groups.”
Accordingly, the association has been backing plans for a new rink at Spectrum, but not at the expense of another rink at Pearkes.
“The need for another rink at Pearkes remains our No. 1 concern,” he said. “If two more rinks were built they would both be full immediately.”