Recent History – 1998
Dec. 9, 1998, By mark Nielsen, Daily news staff
A second inspection of the indoor riding arena, closed to public use 12 days ago, has revealed that with a few repairs the structure may be reopened by as early as Christmas.
“It looks like through a little hard work were going to put this thing back in operation at not a huge cost,” mayor Blair Lekstrom said. Lekstrom had closed the riding arena to public use on November 27 on the basis of an engineer’s report that said the building is unsafe. But a second inspection was held on Tuesday after some boards were removed and it was found that the damage caused by rot may not have been as extensive as first thought.
“He [the engineer] came up yesterday and indicated that if we made some repairs to the sill where it had rotted, and changed some of the plywood along the bottom eight feet that it would be repaired to a safe standard,” Lekstrom said.
The news came as a relief Lekstrom who is also dealing with a curling rink that was closed due to structural problems. As well, Zurich Canada has appealed a supreme court ruling that the insurer must pay for rebuilding Memorial Arena, a building that collapsed January 8, 1997. The riding arena was one of a number of city-owned buildings that were inspected in the wake of the closure of the curling rink, but Lekstrom said the problems at the curling rink appear bone fide.
“The findings on the curling rink were substantially different from the ones on the riding arena,” he said.
Lekstrom said he had some concerns about the first report on the riding arena, but added that it’s understandable that the engineer would err on the side of caution rather than risk a loss of life. With user groups to volunteer their time for much of the work, Lekstrom said the bill should be about $10,000, mostly for materials, “which is a far cry from $200,000 or whatever it might take to put a building back up.”
Larry Fossum of the Dawson Creek and District Stable and Arena Association said he was also relieved. “The winter is our busy time of the year down there for our association and being shut down this early was quite a blow for us so this is good news,” he said. Although he didn’t have exact numbers, Fossum said some users who have land elsewhere had moved their horses off the fair grounds while others decided to wait and see what happens next. There was concern that the original report may have been too cautious, Fossum said, and the association had asked for a second inspection.
“We felt that the building was repairable,” he said. “We had been working on the building ourselves over the years doing repairs and we didn’t think it was in quite that bad a shape all over.”
Once a better idea of what needs to be done is determined, Fossum said much of the work will be done with volunteer labour. He hopes to see work begin as soon as this weekend.
The news also means that a crew can start installing new tin on the north side of the roof, he said. “Optimistically, we might be in before Christmas but we won’t know for sure until we tear into it, shall we say,” he said.