Nova Scotia

Future of Victoria County's only indoor rink uncertain

An engineer's report examining the possibility of adding female dressing rooms to the centre uncovered a litany of problems, including mould.

The Victoria Highland Civic Centre is in need of major repairs or replacement

A hockey stick and puck are seen in this stock photo. There are concerns about the future of hockey at the Victoria Highland Civic Centre in Baddeck, N.S., after an engineer's report found a laundry list of issues, including a leaky roof and rusting beams. (Shutterstock)

Summer may just be ending, but hockey players are already lacing up their skates and getting ready to hit the ice for the season.

In Cape Breton, it may be the last winter those players get to use Victoria County's only indoor ice surface. 

The Victoria Highland Civic Centre's future is hanging in the balance as the Baddeck rink is badly in need of expensive repairs. It would cost about $2 million just to keep the rink open for four to five more years.

"We need to do north of $2 million worth of repairs to the building, so that essentially is putting lipstick on a pig," John Trickett, president of the civic centre's board, told Information Morning Cape Breton.

The rink was built in the 1970s and only had male dressing rooms. The board decided to get an engineer's report done on the building to see how they could build female dressing rooms to accommodate the growing number of girls participating in minor hockey. 

But the engineer's report came back with more than what they bargained for — showing rusting beams and girts, a leaking roof, mildew and mould. 

An image from the engineer's report into the Victoria Highland Civic Centre showing corrosion. (Submitted by Katie Ross)

"Right away we put a stop to the dressing rooms and looked at our priorities: the safety of the people, the environment, and the building itself," said Trickett.

Now the volunteer board is looking at three options to try to keep the rink standing: make some repairs to keep the rink in a holding pattern for four to five years, do major renovations like a new roof, mould remediation, and siding, or draw support from neighbouring communities to do a complete rebuild. All of which will cost millions of dollars.

In the meantime, Trickett said the rink will operate this season as usual.

"This year's not in jeopardy. The engineers have provided us with some strong advice and we will follow that for mitigation for the safety aspect of the building," said Trickett.

That advice includes guidelines for monitoring snow accumulation on the roof and protocols for removing it. 

A deteriorating girt is seen in this image from the engineer's report. (Submitted by Katie Ross)

The board reached out to candidates during both the provincial and federal elections to explain the situation. Trickett said the next step includes speaking to local municipal leaders and the community at large.

"Next year doesn't look good right now until we come up with a plan to move forward," said Trickett.

With files from Information Morning Cape Breton

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