After setbacks, arena renovations are nearing completion

The ongoing $7.6 million renovation project at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena should be complete by the end of January, project head John Elzinga said last week.

Design committee head Rocky Wise

Design committee head Rocky Wise

The ongoing $7.6 million renovation project at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena should be complete by the end of January, project head John Elzinga said last week.

“We’re still discussing the date,” Elzinga said, adding that the last date he’d heard from contractors was January 19, which no longer looks realistic.

This new January completion date comes about five months after their initial completion date, for the beginning of September.

But, Elzinga said that the project is still on-budget. The project had a buffer zone of wish list items; some of which have been delayed due to the time overrun. Nothing major, Elzinga said, and many wish list items are still being included.

The project is also benefiting from a CVRD decision to not apply bonus or penalty clauses, which are dependent upon how long the renovations take.

“Things just took a bit longer than we thought they would. No big reason,” Elzinga said, of the ever-changing completion date. “Weather does tie into it.”

“It looks beautiful already,” Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission chair Sheila McFarlane said. “It looks like it’ll be the nicest arena on the Island.”

McFarlane said that, although there have been some naysayers in the community about the grand opening’s delay, the Commission isn’t up-in-arms.

“You’re bound to have some delays,” she said, citing a wait for the $1 million federal grant, weather issues, and general construction issues as reasons for the delay.

“We were hoping it would be ready, but most people understand,” she said. “On the whole, I think people will be very pleased when they see it. I think we’ll be the envy of the Island.”

A partial completion was granted for the locally-hosted Peewee League Tournament, December 20 to 22, with the local team christening the new dressing rooms.

Another such partial completion date will be set up in advance of this weekend’s Annual Men’s Bonspiel, January 20 to 23. By the weekend, Elzinga said that the curling lounge renovations, which includes a new ceiling, a handicap accessible washroom, new benches, and other things, will be complete.

Elzinga said that a grand opening will be organized for some time in the near future. The Gazette will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Elzinga is a former manager of Cowichan Lake Recreation, and is the current manager of the Island Savings Centre in Duncan.

The $7.6 million in renovation budget includes $1 million in federal economic stimulus funding, $100,000 in previous savings, and $6.5 in borrowing.