Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 14, 2014 - 4:42 pm

Pond Inlet residents await word on their dysfunctional new arena

“We’ve got people up in arms. This is supposed to be a modern facility”

PETER VARGA
Pond Inlet’s $6.2 million arena opened to great fanfare on March 23, 2012, in a feel-good ribbon cutting that included Eva Aariak, then the premier, and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, left. The facility has been closed to the public since March 2013 due to electrical problems. Tununiq MLA Joe Enook, second from left, demanded answers on the issue from the in Nunavut’s legislative assembly this month. Also pictured are Pond Inlet’s mayor in 2012, Jaykolasie Killiktee, and James Arreak, then the minister of culture, on the far left. (FILE PHOTO)
Pond Inlet’s $6.2 million arena opened to great fanfare on March 23, 2012, in a feel-good ribbon cutting that included Eva Aariak, then the premier, and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, left. The facility has been closed to the public since March 2013 due to electrical problems. Tununiq MLA Joe Enook, second from left, demanded answers on the issue from the in Nunavut’s legislative assembly this month. Also pictured are Pond Inlet’s mayor in 2012, Jaykolasie Killiktee, and James Arreak, then the minister of culture, on the far left. (FILE PHOTO)

It opened to great fanfare two years ago, then closed a year later.

And as Pond Inlet’s arena approaches its second anniversary this month, it remains closed – the victim of a faulty electrical system that no one can quite fix, and shifty foundations that the hamlet hopes won’t cause further problems.

“Not one person has put a skate on the ice this year,” said Colin Saunders, the hamlet’s chief economic development officer, and acting senior administrative officer.

“We’ve got people up in arms. This is supposed to be a modern facility, and they’ve been waiting, waiting and waiting very patiently for this.”

The arena cost $6.2 million to build.

As it approaches its second anniversary, Saunders is keeping an ear open to progress by workers sent in by the government to repair the building’s electrical system.

“I’m hoping it will be open in a couple of days,” he told Nunatsiaq News, March 13.

As does everyone else from the community, right up to Joe Enook, the MLA for Tununiq.

Enook threw a series of questions about the matter to Tom Sammurtok, minister of community and government services, on March 7. Sammurtok could only say that his department is working on it.

Repair costs “will be incurred by my department and it will not be incurred by the municipality,” Sammortuk said.

The arena closed to the public in March 2013, and remains closed this year based on a decision by the hamlet’s senior administrative officer, Mike Rudkin, and Nunavut’s Office of the Fire Marshal.

The facility’s emergency lighting and exit lighting do not work, which creates “liability issues,” Saunders said.

“We’re basically concerned that there’s no safe way to evacuate community members (from the arena), should there be any emergencies in the building such as a fire or power outage,” Saunders said.

Specialists working on the problem have said the building’s electrical system is better suited to a building “with a more stable power supply,” Saunders said.

The building relies on power from generators “which sometimes switch back and forth,” Saunders said. This causes fluctuations in electrical power to the building, which the arena’s wiring cannot stand.

“The Government of Nunavut is working hard to rectify the problem,” he added.

The building first showed different signs of trouble shortly after construction was done. Several cracks appeared in the arena’s concrete pad, which serves as the foundation for the ice surface, Saunders said.

These troubles were repaired under warranty.

“Contractors came up more than once to fix the concrete pad. In my opinion, the pad is just sort of settling,” Saunders said.

“Hopefully we won’t see any more movement.”

Rudkin was on leave from his position as senior administrative officer for part of the month, and could not be reached for comment.

Saunders is optimistic the facility will re-open soon. Residents are hopeful, even though this year’s hockey and skating season is almost done.

“We may be refunding everyone’s hockey registration fees that they paid this year,” he said.

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