By Nancy Kelly
Temporary repairs at the Western Kings arena in Kingston have been completed, saving the 2012-2013 ice season for thousands of facility users and teams.
In late September arena, management discovered a major plumbing problem in the arena’s ice-making system, which prevented staff from making ice on a portion of the rink surface. Faced with a time and financial crunch, the rink commission reached out to local and provincial government representatives to find a solution to keep the arena doors open this year.
“This problem had the potential to shut the doors, yes, but the stars aligned and we were able to get the help we needed to correct the problem,” explained rink commission chairman Wayne Fowler.
Kings County council responded by approving $150,000 in emergency funding to provide an immediate fix. The federal and provincial governments have also agreed to contribute funds to the multi-phase repair project that will continue in 2013.
Not only was phase one repair work carried out in less time than anticipated, it was also accomplished under budget.
“The work ran in the $128,000 range,” reported Fowler, who is pleased to report the County has agreed to devote the remainder of the funds to the engineering plan for the phase II permanent fix. The process to secure a firm for phase II work was to begin Nov. 2.
The funding agreements in place mean the arena management group will have to raise $80,000 as its share of the work.
“But given the unparalleled support we have gotten from the community over the past month or so, that seems entirely do-able,” said Fowler, who has “nothing but praise for the timely work” of local Kings County councilors Wayne Atwater and Diana Brothers and area MLA Leo Glavine.
The crisis also seems to have galvanized the community, creating a surge in interest in the future of the arena and in signage sales, which contribute to operational funds.
“I think the public finally appreciates how much we have invested in this arena and how committed we are to keeping it open,” said Fowler, who pointed to $250,000 worth of upgrades made to the facility in recent years.
Community volunteers also stepped forward to help in the repair work.
“What impressed me most was having members of the West Kings senior boys hockey team come out three times to help. It was a team-building experience for all of us.”
Fowler anticipates the scope of work being planned in future phases will extend the life of the arena by 35 to 40 years. Recent technology upgrades to the rink’s multi-purpose room have also enhanced the facility’s value as “a true community centre.
“Our goal has been to make the Western Kings arena a place that is good for the whole community. Despite our recent challenges we are on track to do just that.”