The host society for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games (AWG) is not worried that Hay River’s new Rec Centre won’t be opening until mid-February – just a month before the start of the international sporting event in the South Slave.

“That still gives us enough time,” said Todd Shafer, the general manager of the games.

The new Rec Centre is scheduled to open to the public in mid-February. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Shafer noted the various committees preparing for the games have been working on their plans based on the design and layout of the facility.

“So even getting into that facility physically by the middle of February is plenty of time for us to see what’s the difference between what’s on paper and what’s in the actual physical structure,” he said. “But we’re confident that all reports we’re getting from the municipality are positive and we’re looking forward to being able to get in there and host the games and showcase that venue here in this community.”

The Arctic Winter Games will be held from March 18 to March 24 in Hay River and Fort Smith.

The new Rec Centre will host male bantam and midget hockey, plus male and female volleyball in the Curling Rink.

Shafer said there is no requirement for the organizers to run test events in the new facility.

Members of the committee looking after hockey have run a number of tournaments in the past.

As for volleyball, Shafer said there will be time to get a flooring system set up and to work out any last-minute glitches that might come with the installation of that floor.

The flooring called Sport Court, which Shafer noted is common in national competitions, will be laid down on the concrete at the Curling Rink.

Mayor Brad Mapes believes a month should “definitely” be enough for the AWG to get ready in the new Rec Centre.

“But obviously you want to make sure that, if there are any issues that come up like any new building, it would be better to have a little bit of a timeframe to work out the issues,” he said.

“It looks pretty good for the schedule that we’ve got there,” the mayor added. “Our town has to work with whatever happens, but obviously you don’t want to be opening at the last minute.”

As for a fire safety issue involving the Rec Centre’s central stairwell, Shafer said that’s a matter between the town and the Fire Marshal.

The town and its contractor have a disagreement with the Fire Marshal’s Office, which wants some kind of fire-safe glass or a permanent wall on the central stairwell to increase fire safety.

To address the issue on a temporary basis, the town plans to establish a Fire Watch program to provide early detection in case of fire.

Shafer said the AWG host society has no concerns about that issue.

“We feel that they’re going to come up with the plan that’s going to work and we’re going to be able to run the event as we expected to,” he said.

The Town of Hay River has announced it will take possession of the new Rec Centre at the end of the month.

Clark Builders will continue some finishing work for approximately two weeks into February.

In that time, town staff will get oriented to the new operating systems and outfit the facility with equipment and furniture.

The town is aiming to have recreational programming begin in mid-February.

The opening date is beyond the original mid-December target and two weeks later than an end-of-January opening estimate from last month.

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