Clock ticking on arena decision

The town should know in another week if a double-rink ice surface can be built here for $4.9 million.
LM Architects of Winnipeg informed the town last Thursday that they would be meeting soon with Ernst Hansch Construction, the company which built the Dakota Complex in Winnipeg.
That facility, featuring two side-by-side ice surfaces and a gymnasium, was built just last year in the $4-million range, well within the town’s $4.9-million ceiling for a proposed double-rink facility here.
The arena committee decided to re-open the case for a double-rink facility here at the request of “Ice for Kids” reps Dave Egan and Les Baker during a committee of the whole meeting April 20.
Egan had argued the town might have been premature in shelving plans to build a new double-rink facility in favour of a new stand-alone rink next to an upgraded Memorial Arena.
He asked the town to at least make sure a double-rink facility could not be built for the price first quoted by Winfield Construction of Winnipeg.
The town originally had a deal with Winfield to build the double-rink facility for $4.9 million but that contract was terminated late last year when the company could not get a performance bond for the project.
Councillors had said at last week’s meeting that they were frustrated when Winfield couldn’t get bonded and failed to proceed further with the project.
But in a letter sent by LM Architects to the town received Jan. 20, they informed council of their continued interest in the project, and offered the option of obtaining another builder as part of the “Design Build team” to proceed with it based on the guaranteed maximum price the town had committed to pay Winfield.
And that’s exactly what has frustrated “Ice for Kids,” said Baker, noting he and Egan did not even learn about LM’s letter until last week’s meeting.
“It’s very sad and very disappointing that we didn’t even learn about the letter until three months after it was received,” Baker complained Friday morning.
“I think a lot of the councillors and the mayor have their minds made up and only want to build one rink,” he added.
Mayor Witherspoon admitted the town will proceed with the single stand-alone rink while awaiting word on the double-rink project. He said their intention is to “save time” in case the other project can’t be done within the $4.9-million price.
“We can’t afford any more dead time [but] there’s still a chance [for the double-rink],” he noted. “But we’ll have to have a face-to-face meeting and they’ll have to be 100 percent bonded.”
In fact, the town yesterday sent out requests for proposals from architects for a single Olympic-sized rink with a seating capacity of 1,000-1,200.
The deadline for submissions is June 9, with council planning to meet with “Ice for Kids” and the Border Figure Skating Club reps June 15 to review them.
But Baker warned if a single rink is built, “Ice for Kids” wants to see the complete $4.9 million spent–with no “shortcomings” at all.
“Ice for Kids” has raised $322,000 for the project, and has as much as $500,00 in pledges to date.