The Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s last 40 years were celebrated in style, Saturday, March 12.
The day opened with presentations and a ribbon cutting ceremony for the arena’s $7.6 million in upgrades, and ended with an Appollos alumni hockey game and social in the evening.
Between these events, tours of the upgrades, free skating, and free curling opportunities filled out the day, with a large turnout of residents stopping by to take in the festivities.
Celebrating the arena’s 40th anniversary, Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission chair Sheila McFarlane told the crowd that gathered for the morning’s ribbon cutting ceremony that the building was initially built by local volunteers.
“All these years, up to the present, we are able to get good use out of the arena,” she said. “We know that we have brought another project into Lake Cowichan that will last another 40 years or longer.”
“It means a lot to me, because I’ve lived here all that time,” mayor Ross Forrest said, of the arena. “Everyone in town contributed to the building of this arena… Even teenagers, such as myself… donating, and volunteering time.”
As a result of the area’s construction, the curling, figure skating, and hockey organizations in town have produced some top notch athletes, as well as countless good times, Forrest said.
The grand opening isn’t the end of improvements to the arena, CVRD manager of capital projects Norm Olive said.
“We haven’t finished here. We still have some work outside. The car park, as you can see, has not been completed,” he said.
A gas tax grant has been applied for to help make the parking lot eco-friendly. Additional funds from the $7.6 million budget have been set aside for the parking lot.
The upgrade opening is on budget, but many months behind schedule, Olive said.
“But, this facility is well worth waiting for,” he said.
Architect Keith Tetlow outlined how the new section of the sports arena was constructed up to code with current earthquake regulations. The old section, including the rink, was improved upon with regard to seismic codes.
With regard to energy efficiency, it well surpasses codes, he said. Excess heat from the rink’s cooling down process is being used to heat water, which in turn heats the floors, he said.
“This is a state of the art facility,” he concluded.
Keeping true to the Cowichan Lake area, the upgrade included a significant amount of wood, courtesy of donations Rocky Wise was able to procure from various businesses.
“In the very beginning, the concept of wood wasn’t met with enthusiasm,” CVRD Area F director Ian Morrison said, of the design team. They ended up sharing locals’ enthusiasm, he added.