The Department of Community and Government Services hopes to have a contractor in place by early February to address a longstanding but worsening mould issue that has forced the closure of the Cambridge Bay arena.

The Cambridge Bay arena remains closed due to a longstanding mould issue. Navalik Tologanak/NNSL photo

There remains a chance that the facility could be in use before the end of the winter “if everything goes well,” a department spokesperson said last week.

Pam Gross, who was sworn in as Cambridge Bay’s mayor on Jan. 15, said the arena is her top priority. She and the hamlet council have scheduled a special meeting on Jan. 22 to address the situation.

“It is an issue that we’re going to be talking about,” Gross said. “(We want to) clarify what’s going on and to get all of the facts and see what we can do to work on the issue.”

In the meantime, the hamlet’s recreation department has tried to help compensate for the lack of a usable arena by creating an extra outdoor rink. There are rinks near the intersection of Kaalak and Nugak streets and one on the bay, said recreation coordinator Fred Muise. Hockey nets have been put in place behind Kiilinik High School for scrimmaging.

“Normally we did one (outdoor rink) in the past,” Muise said. “We’ve created extra because the arena’s not available.”

Muise said he has had preliminary conversations with the vice-president of the community’s minor hockey association about the possibility of creating some hockey programming on the outdoor rinks.

The hamlet will maintain the outdoor rinks, subject to the availability of staff and heavy equipment to clear snowfalls from the ice surface, Muise added.

The federal government, through Infrastructure Canada, announced $4.2 million in funding in February 2016 to address the arena mould and to install a new concrete ice surface with a thermosiphon system, which would extend the ice season. Construction on that project was projected to start on April 1 of this year and wrap up by March 31, 2021.

CGS commissioned an environmental assessment for the arena in 2017. The report showed the mould was intensifying and spreading. The Hamlet of Cambridge Bay refused to open the arena to the public in December due to possible health hazards related to mould exposure.

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