After 80 years of sports and culture glory, the Civic Arena is about to undergo a significant upgrade.
Opened in 1935, the beloved building will be closed until Tuesday, October 13 — a week later than its planned opening — for maintenance work including repainting, closures of some areas and the addition of parking space to the arena’s west end.
“The Civic hasn’t had a lot of investment in it over the last while,” said Mayor Deb Kozak, “and like all the beautiful heritage buildings and homes around town, the arena comes with a few old-age issues.”
Mayor Kozak says those anticipated issues were confirmed earlier this month in a building inspection requested by council.
The inspection noted concerns over mold and lead-based paint — troubles the City is confident it can address quickly. Painters and construction workers have been working to mitigate the issues since Monday.
Mayor Kozak said the arena will be safer, cleaner and even a little cozier when the work is finished.
“People who’ve used the arena over recent years need to know that the air quality has been safe. It’s the confined spaces, along the foundation, that are too moldy to leave as is. We’ll have an on-going air monitoring program planned after we re-open just to keep an eye on things.”
Flaking lead paint under years of non-lead coats will be permanently sealed up under a layer of enamel marine-grade paint in four sections of bleachers, dressing rooms, players’ benches, the penalty boxes and score keepers’ booth.
The major change will be the arena’s seating capacity. The entire south side of the building will be permanently closed, as will the east and west ends, and the ladies’ change room, which will be relocated. The public washroom will remain open.
Those areas are being closed until work required to fully remediate the issue can be fully scoped and the area closed so that the significant remedial work can proceed.
“If the City didn’t proceed with this mitigative project now, we’d have to close the arena outright,” she said, “but with some fast work and a little innovation, we don’t feel we need to do that.”
Outside, more parking will be added for users of the Civic and visitors to its Nelson Sports Museum, the Hall Street business corridor and the nearby Nelson and District Community Complex.
The City is tearing out the long concrete ramp that runs from Hall Street to the Civic’s west entry, as well as the decrepit storage area below it.
Kozak noted that the arena’s closures for this season, while significant, reflect changing user demands too. There are fewer ice users and fans nowadays.
The four sections that will be renovated and re-opened will be a more appropriate space for people to cheer from.
“They’ll be cozier confines and more fun for fans,” she said.
The 12 user groups who’ve booked into practice and game times at the Civic in October are being notified of the delayed start to the season by the Regional District of Central Kootenay, which handles bookings for the ice. The Civic was scheduled to re-open for fall and winter use Monday, October 5.
The City and RDCK have plans in place to ensure the region’s sports and recreation facilities meet the needs of current and future users. The RDCK Recreation Master Plan is available at www.rdck/recreationmasterplan.com
The plan includes options like the creation of a recreation campus, and also identifies the need to re-purpose some recreational venues to meet the interests of new generations of sports and culture participants.
“So we’re basically doing everything we can to keep the Civic open and protect it,” said Mayor Kozak, “and the City will do so without spending too much money on it, until we have a solid plan in place.”
“All of it,” she added, “the painting of the walls, the closures, the removal of ramp — they’re renewals — and an investment in a building that’s been very important to Nelson’s heritage and history.”