Imagine having an arena that’s been open for close to a quarter-century and no resurfacing machine to keep the ice in good shape.
That’s the state of affairs which has plagued the Tununirusiq Arena in Arctic Bay for 23 years but the problem has been solved and both the community’s recreation co-ordinator and senior administrative officer couldn’t be happier.
The arena now has a new – and working – propane-powered Zamboni after it arrived in the community by sealift earlier this month.
According to Thomas Levi, it’s the first time the arena has had an ice resurfacing machine of any sort since it opened in 1995.
“If all goes well, we will get to use the Zamboni this coming winter hockey season,” he said in an email to Nunavut News.
There was a sense of excitement in the community once it arrived, said Debbie Johnson, Arctic Bay’s senior administrative officer.
“I bumped into some of the hockey players in the store and they were telling me they could win back-to-back Qamutik Cups now,” she said.
The Qamutik Cup is the senior men’s hockey tournament which is held following the completion of the Nunavut Quest dog mushing race each year. Arctic Bay won this year’s tournament back in April after they beat Pond Inlet, 6-5, in the final.
Before the new Zamboni came to town, Johnson said cleaning the ice at the arena was done the old-fashioned way: a barrel of water, a scraper to clean up the ice shavings and a mop-like cloth to help smooth out the water that came from the barrel.
“They would pull the barrel around the ice and it worked but there was a lot of downtime in between events,” she said. “The new Zamboni will cut the downtime a lot.”
Getting the funding to help buy the Zamboni was a long process, she added.
“We’ve been trying to get the funding for as long as I’ve been here, which is five years,” she said. “Thomas was writing proposals for it and we also had a lot of help from Julian Oyukuluk, our economic development officer, who also wrote funding proposals for it.”
Getting the Zamboni was a sense of relief for the community, said Johnson, and it will help promote a sense of well-being and active living.
“We’ll be able to do some more activities at the arena now and the community needed something like this,” she said. “I know Thomas was very pleased when it arrived and he did a lot of work to get it here.”