The City of Fernie has shelved a $200,000 project for the arena while it awaits a decision on grant funding for a new multi-purpose community centre. File photo

Fernie council defers arena project

City stalls arena upgrades while it awaits decision on grant funding for new multi-purpose centre

Fernie council has mutually agreed to wait before spending over $200,000 on further upgrades to the Fernie Memorial Arena.

At the April 23 regular meeting, they discussed the possibility of installing a dehumidification unit at the arena at an estimated cost of $213,000.

During discussion, Councillor Phil Iddon declared he was all for the upgrades but would rather wait 1.5 months until the City receives word about a grant funding application for the proposed multi-purpose community centre.

LOOK BACK: City of Fernie pitches $80m multi-purpose community centre

He questioned whether the City should be investing further in a potentially short-term facility.

Mayor Ange Qualizza agreed.

“I’m very reluctant to go out with a $213k product until we know definitively whether we’re going to get that grant or not,” she said.

Staff explained that they could install the unit during the regular season if need be and that waiting would not be detrimental.

They recommended going ahead with this project because the roof trusses of the arena are known to fail because of humidity buildup and they believe it would be wise to protect what the City has already invested in.

LOOK BACK: City meets with user groups to discuss arena closure

Staff added that the dehumidification unit also comes with a CO2 monitor in it, which would activate if CO2 levels rose in the arena and pump in fresh air from outside the building. This, they explained, could happen when the arena sells out for a hockey game.

Qualizza asked whether there was any immediate safety risk by not installing the unit. Staff said this measure is just ‘proactive’ and follows a trend by other municipalities, which are installing the units in schools and other facilities.

Iddon added there has never been a dehumidification unit in that building since it was built in 1959.

The arena dehumidification project was deferred until council receives further word about the multi-purpose community centre grant funding.

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