Grant opportunity puts future of Revelstoke Forum in focus

The City of Revelstoke has published a new report on the Revelstoke Forum, which includes several options to repair or replace the facility. However, a grant funding opportunity is forcing a decision on Jan. 8, leaving no time for public consultation.

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A rendition of a proposed new concept for renovating and replacing the roof at the Revelstoke Forum. Photo: David Hewko Planning & Program Management via City of Revelstoke report

The future of the Revelstoke Forum will be at centre ice in council chambers next week when city council will make a key decision that will have long-term implications for the future of indoor ice sports in Revelstoke.

A city report published on January 4 is up for a city council decision at their January 8 meeting. The report by Laurie Donato, the city’s director of Parks, Recreation & Culture, recommends that city council supports a grant application for $9 million through a joint federal and provincial infrastructure program called the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The funding would be used to replace the Revelstoke Forum roof, and also do other upgrades to the aging ice rink including adding an entry way, an accessibility lift, and a women’s change room. The report recommends that city council commits $1 million to support the grant application, for a total of $10 million for the project.

Revelstoke Forum file photo: There are many hockey newcomers at Grizzlies playoff games these days. One question they ask is what’s the championship? The banners in the rafters are the visual: the amazing 2009-10 Revelstoke Grizzlies won it all. First, the KIJHL championship, then the B.C. provincials, then the Western Canada finals. This season, the winner of this series will play the Kimberley Dynamiters for the KIJHL championship. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

In her report, Donato notes that the new grant program was announced in October, and that large capital infrastructure grant opportunities like this are infrequent: “Grant programs of this magnitude for recreational infrastructure are rare.”

The timing of the grant opportunity brings the decision on the future of indoor ice sports to a head. The key decision is whether to extend the life of the Forum through repairs, or build a new ice rink in town. There are multiple options for either scenario.

The staff report on the grant application includes several background studies on the Forum, including an Arena Needs Assessment study of the facility. The 35-page study explores current and future usage of the facility and presents options for repair or replacement.

A concept rendering for a replacement spectator arena, which would be built on a new location. Image: City of Revelstoke report

The study presents four main options. The first is status quo upgrades to the facility at a cost of $3.4–4.6 million. The second is replacing the roof and doing upgrades on the facility such as adding wheelchair accessibility and women’s change rooms, with an estimated cost of $10.9 million. The third is building a new, smaller arena that would suitable for local user needs, but not KIJHL Junior B hockey, at an estimated cost of $11 million. The fourth option is building a new “spectator” arena that would allow for Junior B hockey, at a cost of $17–$18 million. Another option presented in the report is to simply decommission the indoor ice rink, although that option doesn’t receive much attention in the report.

Replacing the Forum with a new spectator facility would allow users to continue to skate at the Forum until the new one is complete at a new location. A report in the package cites the city-owned property near the city’s sewage treatment lagoons in Southside as the likely location for a new spectator arena.

If the arena was to be replaced with a new “user” facility with limited spectator seating, the current location would be large enough, but it would mean ice sports would not run while the old Forum is demolished and the new one built.

2018 file photo: Playoff fever is alive in Revelstoke. Fans have been packing the Forum for the Grizzlies 2018 playoff run. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

The two repair options would mean the “probable” shutdown of the Revelstoke Forum for a season, and it warns that the closure could be “fatal” for ongoing youth programming like minor hockey, as the programming could lapse for a season.

Any option that shut the arena down for a season could put the future of the Revelstoke Grizzlies Junior B team in question if the team was forced to relocate for a season.

Donato writes that the timing of the grant opportunity, “does not provide us with an opportunity to find out which option the community would support.”

The decision to replace the Forum with a new facility would mean an end to curling in Revelstoke. The report studied usage of the Forum, and found that about 8% of the community uses the Forum ice sheet, but that only 2% of the population uses the curling rink, and those numbers are dwindling as the user group ages. It says that curling is in “fatal systemic decline” in Revelstoke.

File photo: Revelstoke Skating Club performers, dressed as dominoes, rehearse for their Mar. 17 Family Game Night performance at the Revelstoke Forum. Photo: Revelstoke Skating Club

The report notes that the grant application for $9 million may or may not be successful, and that it could be partially successful, leaving the city responsible for seeking other funding or debt borrowing to complete the renovation project.

Aging facility

The staff report notes a number of engineering studies over the years have pointed to many problems with the aging roof and the facility in general.

Currently, an engineering company oversees snow removal on the roof, and the cost is $20,000 each time the roof is shovelled. “If we do not plan to replace or repair the arena roof, we run the risk of a roof collapse,” writes Donato in her report. “This could result in property damage and loss of life.”

An engineering report notes a long list of problems that need to be repaired at the facility. If the roof was repaired and the facility upgraded, it wouldn’t be the end of repairs needed at the Forum. A summary of upcoming upgrades in the next few years totals $1,071,000, and a new arena ice surface is slated for 2024 at a cost of $1.5 million.

City council’s January 8 meeting is at 3 p.m. in Revelstoke City Council Chambers. The meetings are open to the public.

No senior City of Revelstoke staff were available for comment following the publication of the report on the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 4. The Mountaineer did communicate with leaders from two minor sports associations and the Revelstoke Grizzlies, and asked for comment once they’d had a chance to review the reports.

Want to know more?

-Read Laurie Donato’s overview report (PDF) with recommendations to council here.

-View the 2017 Needs and Demands Assessment by David Hewko here (PDF).

-See a 2014 City of Revelstoke Forum life cycle costing report.

-See a 2017 Arena Needs Assessment by David Hewko.

-Read the 2017 Revelstoke Forum Roof Structure Assessment and engineering assessment.

-Access all of these documents, by starting on the January 8 Revelstoke City Council meeting agenda. There are several other supplemental documents, including summaries.

For more on this story, check back to revelstokemountaineer.com before and after the January 8 city council meeting.

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Aaron Orlando
Aaron Orlando is the Creative Director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's worked in Revelstoke as a journalist and editor for the past ten years. Got tips on Revelstoke news, entertainment, sports, outdoor life, community or anything else? Email aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text Aaron at 250-814-8710.