Whether it’s tyke or junior hockey, the search for more ice time can be an exhaustive one. Which is why the news of expansion at the local arena is always exciting.
Town council recently gave the nod for a $15 million expansion for Okotoks’ Pason Centennial Arena on Community Way, with construction planned to begin as early as this fall. Funding for the construction project is coming from a $12 million grant for municipal initiatives and the balance will come from the Town of Okotoks savings accounts. $2.2 million is in reserve for recreational facilities with the balance in a reserve fund for public facilities of any kind.
While Town Council has planned for this, the price tag for expansion is now $1 million above the quote from last year which has left some members puzzled as to how the cost could jump in less than 12 months.
Some of the additional expenses anticipated are to accommodate a natural gas Zamboni which requires additional ventilation as opposed to an electric one.
The plans for the addition will be run by groups in the community which will obviously use the new facility, like the Okotoks Skating Club and of course various minor hockey associations. These community stakeholders will be asked to review design elements that affect then, such as bench sizes and dressing rooms.
Council members hope that shovels will be in the ground by this fall so that the additional area and ice surface is ready to go for the 2017 – 2018 hockey season. A hindrance to this timeline could be a parking study which is a requirement and may push things back by as much as five months. It should take about 18 months or so to complete the actual construction.
The need for additional ice in Okotoks is approaching the “dire” stage, as minor hockey teams are sharing ice times with two or three teams on the ice for practices and games scheduled in nearby towns like Staveley which is 45 minutes away. Groups that use ice in Okotoks have been formally requesting the construction of additional arenas for some time. This will also allow for more public skate time for those who enjoy recreational skating.
About the Pason Centennial Arena
Home of the Okotoks Junior ‘A’ Oilers Hockey Team, this community facility was constructed in 2006 in the south western part of the town. Known locally as “Centennial” it’s a multi-purpose building that also holds other sporting event such as ringette, figure skating competitions, box lacrosse, trade shows, conferences, concerts and even the occasional wedding. The arena has 1,500 seats and is one of the finest facilities in the province used by the Alberta Junior Hockey League. There is a two-lane running track that runs throughout the facility on the upper level.
The Master Plan for Okotoks Parks and Rec
Residents have just completed surveys conducted by the Town to measure citizen engagement as part of its master plan for recreation, parts and leisure. The goal is to develop and improve public programs and enhance recreational services and facilities in the Town of Okotoks within the next 20 years.
Public consultation ended June 27 and a plan should be announced by the end of 2016.