The North River Rink, which has been a fixture in Cornwall, P.E.I., for more than 65 years, will soon disappear.  

A new access road to the York Point Road will soon takes its place, which the provincial department of transportation is building near the new roundabout at the site of the old rink.

The province purchased the former rink from McQuaid's Trucking and Warehousing, which has owned it for the past decade. The property is not one of the 24 being acquired by the province to complete the Cornwall Bypass project.

While neither side would disclose the sale price, Austin McQuaid did tell CBC News that he hadn't been looking to sell.

'Part of the master plan'

Transportation officials said the new access road is all part of the province's effort to improve safety in the area, especially for the local fire department.

North River Access Road

The new access road will be built near this roundabout. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"This was part of the master plan," said Stephen Yeo, the chief engineer with P.E.I.'s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. "We knew we needed to improve safety. It's going to open up the intersection for sight lines …and [improve] the access for the North River Fire Department."

Area especially dangerous says fire chief

According to Anson Grant, the North River fire chief, the area can be especially dangerous, particularly during peak times. Currently, the fire department accesses the Trans Canada Highway through a break in the centre median.

Anson Grant

North River fire chief Anson Grant says the new access road will improve safety for firefighters exiting the fire hall. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Grant said the new access road will make it easier for firefighters to get their trucks in and out of the station — which ultimately means responding to emergencies more quickly.

"Traffic's always been busy along this stretch," he said. "It's a heavily travelled route, especially at peak times in the mornings and evenings, so it can be frustrating. Even [with] all the lights and sirens in the world, some motorists just don't pay attention to those sorts of things."

'Seconds count'

The new access road will mean fire trucks will be able to exit the fire station, hang left, and then turn onto the York Point Road and into the new roundabout. That's instead of trying to cross four lanes of traffic.

"Any seconds we can save, it could mean a life." -Anson Grant, North River fire chief

"We'll be able to see further up the road and what traffic is coming," Grant said. "In emergency situations, seconds count, so any seconds we can save, it could mean a life." 

The province has given the rink's former owner until the end of September to remove all the contents of the building. 

Tenders for the demolition and removal work will be issued in October. The new access road is expected to be completed by early December.

With files from Tom Steepe