Northern Development Initiative Trust’s board of directors in July approved a $250,000 grant to support the development of a new arena in the Town of Smithers.
The recreation facility, which has been in planning stages for two decades, will cost approximately $4.7 million to build.
“An arena is more than just a sheet of ice. An arena is a place where people come together, an asset that builds a stronger north, and a legacy that makes Smithers a more desirable and enjoyable place to live,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “Northern Development is proud to partner with the great people of Smithers to support this important project — and we can’t wait to see the building when it’s complete.”
The funding was approved under the Trust’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program, which provides funding to municipalities, regional districts, First Nations and nonprofit organizations in Northern Development’s service area for projects that significantly strengthen the local economy via a major capital investment.
Past Economic Diversification Infrastructure funding projects have included a fuel station for Barkerville and Wells, the Terrace Sportsplex and Conference Facility and the Prince George Airport’s runway expansion.
“The Town of Smithers is truly grateful for Northern Development’s funding commitment,” said Town of Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach. “The new arena is a big project for Smithers and this additional funding means we’re one step closer to seeing this important project become a reality.”
The Town of Smithers has contracted Nanaimobased C&M Developments to design and build the new arena, which will be located adjacent to the town’s current area.
C&M’s team of northwest B.C. contractors includes TimberPeak Construction, architect Dan Condon, Bulkley Valley Engineering Services and several other local contractors.
The existing 52-year-old Smithers arena is beyond capacity, limiting access for area residents who want to skate or play hockey. Over the past 10 years, 100% of ice time has been utilized and 95% of total ice time is during the prime-operating season. A new arena will provide much-needed additional ice capacity for all ice users. It is anticipated that, by doubling the available ice time, many existing ice users will expand their operations and new ice user groups may be formed once the new arena is built. The new arena is estimated to be complete by the end of September 2014. It will feature an NHL-sized ice surface and a first-phase seating capacity of at least 350.
Additional funding secured to date totals $4,063,786, including $2.35 million in provincial grants; $650,000 in Town of Smithers borrowing; $400,000 in Town of Smithers Land Sales Reserves, $250,000 committed from the Aquilini Investment Group and Canucks Sport and Entertainment; $100,000 from Pacific Inland Resources; $50,000 from Minor Hockey and additional funds from other sources including local donations.