'The kids want to go skating': Lutselk'e arena closed for months because of black mould

People in Lutselk'e are frustrated after months of not being able to use the community arena because of black mould.

'It’s having a big impact,' said Lutselk'e Chief Darryl Marlowe

Lutsel K'e First Nation Chief Darryl Marlowe says children in the community haven't been able to train for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games because they don't have access to the arena. (Lawrence Nayally)

People in Lutselk'e​, N.W.T., are frustrated because they have been shut out of their community arena for months because of black mould.

"It's having a big impact," said Darryl Marlowe, chief of the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation, which operates the facility.

"The kids want to go skating," he said. "A lot of kids … were training for the Arctic Winter Games. We aren't able to train our kids in hockey."

Marlowe said the arena was used almost every day. Now, he said people are going to the local gym only once or twice a week to play volleyball and floor hockey.

Chief Darryl Marlowe says the mould is visible in the rink. (Randall Mackenzie/CBC)

The arena has been closed since the summer, according to Marlowe, who said the mould was caused by the arena's ventilation system. He said it's growing on the asphalt of the ice rink and around the rink's edges.

"You could see it when you walk into the arena," he said. "Inside the rink, you look down on the plywood floor you can see the black mould."

School closed because of mould in 2016

This isn't the first time mould has caused a building to shut down in the community.

In 2016, construction crews discovered mould at the Lutsel K'e Dene School while doing renovations, a development that punted students to makeshift classrooms throughout the community during renovations to fix the problem. The new school opened in September

Marlowe said the First Nation hopes to start cleaning up the arena this spring.

"We're going to have to do a major gutting of the whole rink," he said. "Take all the boards out, wash it, and we're going to wipe down everything that's inside that facility. It's going to be a big job."

Marlowe doesn't know how much the project will cost. He said the First Nation is looking into partnerships with the First Nation's development corporation and mining companies to help with the cleanup.