Sun Peaks ice rink delayed, not ditched

Sun Peaks is again looking ahead in its hopes of bringing an NHL-sized ice rink to the mountain

Some of the ski runs at Sun Peaks Resort.

Some of the ski runs at Sun Peaks Resort.

By Adam Williams

Kamloops This Week

Sun Peaks is again looking ahead in its hopes of bringing an NHL-sized ice rink to the mountain resort.

In May, KTW reported Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality had plans to begin construction of an outdoor hockey rink in July, with eyes to opening the new facility for the fall of 2015.

But, the sheet has yet to surface. The opening date was pushed back later that year, when concerns were expressed about the proposed site for the new facility.

“In speaking with a variety of people, and certainly the knowledge of the mayor and council, they just thought from a walkability standpoint and location, that it just was a little too far out of town,” said Rob Bremner, chief administrative officer of the municipality.

“Once we have a new location, it will get built there. We’re just in the process of working through that right now.”

The new ice rink will take the place of the current sheet at Sun Peaks, a worn-out venue which measures 50 feet by 100 feet and sits a short walk from either the base of the Morrisey Express chairlift or the resort’s village.

The new surface is expected to measure 85 feet wide and 200 feet long — the size of an NHL rink — and will be refrigerated by an ice plant purchased from a disassembled rink in Indiana. The boards surrounding the surface are from Portland’s Moda Center — formerly known as the Rose Garden — the primary home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.

Both the boards and the refrigeration system are already on the mountain.

Originally, the municipality had planned to build the facility on acquired Crown land, which Bremner said sat around “the next bend” from the old rink.

A new site hasn’t yet been finalized, but the CAO said the municipality hopes to have a new plan nailed down in the next four to six weeks, with hopes of summer construction and a fall 2016 opening.

“There’s a couple sites that are being talked about that are both closer to the village,” he said, without formally identifying the prospective locations.

Aside from a change in placement, the original plan for the outdoor rink remains in place. It is estimated to come with a price tag of between $400,000 and $500,000, on top of the $100,000 the municipality has already invested in the boards and ice plant.

Though Sun Peaks hasn’t yet received confirmation, it hopes between 90 and 95 per cent of the price tag will be covered by provincial and federal government funding, including gas tax monies.

The remaining expenses will be covered by resort municipality initiative funds.

The rink isn’t pegged as a revenue-generating initiative, but Bremner hopes a more consistent surface — maintained by a refrigeration plant, rather than Mother Nature — will bring the facility to a break-even point, with skating fees and rentals covering the cost of operations.

“The idea is just to upgrade the current facility,” Bremner told KTW last year.

“There’s a lot of times throughout the year, when the sun starts beating down, that it melts. This allows it to be consistent and available when we say it’s available.”