Sports

Free skating as rink nears completion

With extensive renovations to the Pitt Meadows Arena nearing completion, the rink will hold its first public skating session in more than eight months, and admission will be free all weekend.

Rink manager Ray Boogaards is hoping for a full house this weekend, so the community can take a look at the rejuvenated facility.

“When it’s all done, it will be one of the nicest rinks anywhere, in my opinion,” said Boogaards

The arena’s new lobby features automatic doors and is flooded with natural light from the two-storey glass entrance way.

The arena’s new skate shop will be moved into the lobby for Friday’s public skate session, while the arena’s offices, currently housed in a trailer in the parking lot, will be moved inside in the next two weeks.

Most of the major work, much of which occurred behind scenes, has already been completed. The hundreds of piles the arena sits on have been replaced, as has the building’s long-leaking roof, while seismic upgrades will protect the building in the case of an earthquake. The arena’s heating and ventilation system have also been replaced, while the arena’s exterior walls have been insulated and recladded with tough, weather resistant panels.

The cost of the renovations has jumped considerably since the project was first proposed, from $5.3 million to $8.6 million, due to unforeseen repairs to the piles, as well as fast-tracked timeline.

However, there’s still plenty of work to be done before the project, which has been ongoing for the past 14 months, is completed.

Bleachers capable of seating more than 100 people each are under construction for the Gold and Blue rinks, while crews are currently completing the wall between the Blue and Red rinks, as well as the Red rink change rooms.

Boogaards estimates the last of the work will be completed by the end of the year, with the exception of much of the painting, which will be completed next summer when the ice comes out.

The arena is still looking for vendors to run the first floor concession and second floor restaurant.

Despite all the work that is being done, all three rinks are open and operating.

Boogaards is encouraging arena users to fill out a survey available at the arena offices and come up with suggestions for how things can be improved.

“It’s important... to involve the citizens in how we operate the arena,” said Boogaards.

• Free public skating takes place at the Pitt Meadows Arena from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item to the food bank. Skate and helmet rentals are extra.

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