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January 21st, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 3
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Municipal investment breathes
new life into Albert Stella Arena
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Source: Google Maps
Albert Stella Memorial Arena
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
It’s old, cold and crumbling but the community groups who use Blairmore’s Albert Stella Memorial Arena will be back at play come February.
The municipality is investing $62,854 plus GST into the facility, which will keep it usable for the next two years, but the cost will be much higher to keep Albert Stella open for the long term.
A facility evaluation report published in October 2014 by Edmonton-based Architecture Arndt Tkalcic Bengert says it would cost an estimated $4.215 million to renovate Albert Stella to make it usable for about the next twenty years.
“The Stella Arena requires extensive repairs and a complete modernization… The building is in critical condition; and health and safety issues should be addressed immediately or the building should be closed,” says the report.
The previous council planned to close Albert Stella in 2014 after a 2011 facility audit revealed that it was in poor shape but the current council committed to keeping it open, says Lyle Hannan, director of Community Services.
Last month, after a review and evaluation of the arena raised health and safety concerns, the municipality closed the arena, which forced community groups to use other municipal buildings.
On Jan. 13, council awarded Crowsnest Pass Home Services the contract to do remediation work at Albert Stella.
According to a municipal release, renovations are underway and will continue into the spring. However, the majority of work will be completed quickly and public use of the facility is expected to resume over the next 2 - 3 weeks.
‘The idea is to buy enough time so we can formulate a plan to find out what we’ll do with this building long term and the activities that take place within it,” says Hannan.
continued below...


Hannan says the remediation work will keep costs to a minimum.
After work is completed, the south bleachers will be permanently closed to the public. Only maintenance will access that side of the building to save money and sidestep fire safety concerns but the north end bleachers will be renovated and usable.
In the referee room is some asbestos tile. Workers will be putting a product over it to avoid having to remove it, which would be expensive.
The old ice plant room near the concession area will be demolished and a new exterior façade will be placed. New emergency lighting and signage will be installed and the second and third floors of the building will be permanently closed.
In the spring, workers will put a product on the roof to help prevent moisture from coming in.
“We feel that this amount of repair will at least make it safe to use for the near term,” says Hannan. “Council will have to make some evaluation of what we’re going to do long term.”
The arena was built in 1959 with a curling rink addition in 1972. The facility had a kitchen upgrade in 1984 and a hockey dressing room was added in 1991. The facility is currently being used as an indoor soccer pitch in the original hockey ice arena structure and the original curling rink has been converted to a skateboarding park, climbing and gymnastics facility.

Crowsnest rec centre; a pipedream or Can Do-able?
The Crowsnest Can Do Cultural and Recreation Society is hoping council will consider their proposed cultural and recreation centre as a long term solution.
Since the early 1990s Crowsnest Can Do has been pushing for the construction of a recreation complex that would include an aquatic centre, indoor track, racquet ball courts, weight room, gymnasium, dance studio and live theatre facility.
Tim Juhlin, President of Crowsnest Can Do, says the facility could be built in Coleman between Crowsnest Consolidated High School (CCHS) and the Coleman Sports Complex to take advantage of the high school gym and the arena.
The venture would be pricey – Juhlin estimates it would cost around $27 million.
“We know it’s costly but it would divert a number of Teck employees who would otherwise live in Fernie or Sparwood here because they see that we have a cultural centre and a pool,” says Juhlin. “It’d be like having another mine, without having a mine.”
Juhlin says the municipality would do better to invest in Can Do’s vision of a recreation centre for the Pass rather than making short-term investments in aging facilities.
“If we could focus our energies and our budgets in one direction it would be pretty fantastic,” he says.

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January 21st ~ Vol. 85 No. 3
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