The Golden & District Recreation Centre, otherwise known as the “Plywood Palace”, has been closed since November 25 due to a chiller failure.                                 CLAIRE PALMER/STAR PHOTO

The Golden & District Recreation Centre, otherwise known as the “Plywood Palace”, has been closed since November 25 due to a chiller failure. CLAIRE PALMER/STAR PHOTO

Arena set to re-open in mid-January

The Town of Golden and Columbia Shuswap Regional District have developed a plan to get skates back on the ice at the Golden & District Recreation Centre with a target re-opening date of January 10, 2020.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District Directors voted unanimously on Friday, December 6 to support the purchase of a new ice chiller for the facility at a cost of $150,000 to $200,000. The CSRD is the owner of the building, which is operated under a contract agreement with the Town of Golden.

A permanent ice chiller replacement for the facility will likely take eight to 12 weeks to be delivered and installed at the Golden & District Recreation Centre. This delay was effectively going to end the season for many of the facility’s user groups. The arena supports the Junior B Golden Rockets as well as minor hockey, figure skating and other public programs.

Working together, the CSRD and Town staff found a temporary chiller which can be rented. This will allow for the ice to be reinstalled in January and ready for skaters to complete their sport seasons. It will cost approximately $80,000 to rent the chiller, however, this is offset by the $70,000 to $80,000 in operational revenue that would be lost without an ice surface.

There would also be a loss in the economic benefits to businesses in the Town of Golden from outof-town visitors coming to stay for hockey games, tournaments or other events.

In light of this, the CSRD Board also agreed to authorize funding up to a maximum of $80,000 towards the rental of a temporary chiller.

“It has been a difficult situation for the community to lose the use of their arena, but I commend the staff of both the Town of Golden and the CSRD for working so quickly to find solutions,” says Electoral Area A Director Karen Cathcart. “I know this is an unexpected expense, but for the community, this is the right thing to do. I thank the Board for agreeing to provide the funds to get our community skating again.”

Town of Golden Mayor Ron Oszust calls the news fantastic, noting the Golden & District Recreation Centre is one of the community’s most-used facilities.

“The Golden Arena is one of the true shared services in the community. It’s great to see everyone working together to come up with a solution to keep the arena running for the season, “says Mayor Oszust. “Thanks to the public and user groups for their patience and cooperation during the closure, we look forward to reopening in January.”

As the chiller was only nine years old and the life expectancy of ice chillers is approximately 20 years, the CSRD has submitted an insurance claim in hopes of recouping some of the costs.

Before the temporary ice chiller is installed and a new ice surface can be developed, the Town and the CSRD is continuing to work with user groups on alternative locations, such as using an outdoor ice surface in Parson for some of their activities.

Both the CSRD and the Town of Golden will keep residents informed of progress and timelines on the project as additional details become available.