Mayor Brad Mapes says the new rec centre will soon be open, although he is not giving any target date.

“It’s close,” he said on March 2. “It’s just any day right now. It could be any day.”

On March 3, it was obvious that work was still ongoing inside the unopened new rec centre. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Mapes said there’s not much more that he can say other that it’s close.

However, he did say the facility will be ready for the Arctic Winter Games (AWG).

“We’re definitely going to have it open before the games,” the mayor said. “So there isn’t an issue there.”

The new facility is scheduled to host the AWG opening ceremonies on March 18.

Mapes recognized there is “panic” among some community residents that the facility might not be ready for the games.

“There’s people worried about it, but it’s going to happen,” he said. “It will be open before the games.”

Mapes objected to repeated questions by The Hub about the status of the rec centre project.

“I feel very comfortable in saying that it’s going to happen and I don’t want to be talking five times about it,” he said. “It’s been a stressful time and we don’t need to have it where it’s just going to cause people panic. It’s going to happen. That’s all I can say about that.”

Aside from some minor touch-ups, the main work happening in the building as of late last week were changes to the central stairwell.

“Because we’re not going in the building until the stairwell is done,” said Mapes. “We’re not going to open to the public until the stairwell is done.”

The work is to address a concern of the NWT Fire Marshal – safe exiting of the building on the central stairwell in case of fire. It is being enclosed with fire-rated drywall.

Ruth Boden, the acting senior administrative officer with the Town of Hay River, also sounded optimistic about the continuing work, including on the central stairwell.

“That’s progressing well. So we’re hopeful with that,” she said on March 1. “They’re doing the last clean-up pieces in the rooms and the various different areas of the arena. We still haven’t got a date because final inspection has to be done and that sort of thing, but we’re hopeful that it’s going to be fairly soon.”

Once the project is completed by main contractor Clark Builders, the work has to be inspected by the town and the Fire Marshal.

Boden said the completion of the project is out of the town’s hands.

“It’s not something we can control completely. We’re anticipating we’ll be ready (for the AWG),” she said. “We are anticipating there’ll be time enough for groups to get in and do what they have to do, but we still don’t have a set date.”

Boden recognized that community residents are wondering about the project and would like to have more information.

“But we just don’t have anything else to give right now,” she said.

Mapes said he appreciates the patience of community residents as the rec centre project has proceeded.

“It will be well-received when we get it opened,” he predicted.

The demolition-and-rebuild project of the rec centre began in the summer of 2016.

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