It’s not the hive of activity an ice rink is accustomed to hosting in the middle of December, but the full slate of construction crews at the Bayplex remains a welcome site to those interested in the future of the facility.
These days construction crews, instead of hockey players, can be spotted inside and outside the building as part of the complete refurbishment of the facility that will be known as the Glace Bay Miners Forum when it reopens.
“We are looking forward to getting it open for July 1,” said Brian Lund, president of Brilun Construction Ltd., during a project update on Thursday at the Glace Bay venue. “I know there are big plans, so the focus is definitely July.”
The Bayplex was officially closed in July 2017 due to its deteriorating condition. The current construction project began in June and includes upgrades and expansion of the facility that will cost $9.2-million when the project is completed.
To date, work has included a 15-foot extension of the ice surface, two new dressing rooms to replace those lost with the extension of the ice surface, and an additional dressing room added. The province has kicked in an additional $150,000 to cover the new dressing room.
Lund said the ice surface and soon to be installed lighting will be the most noticeable aspects of the project to patrons when the facility is finally reopened.
“That’s what is going to make it with new dasher boards, players are now on the same side. It’s all focused around ice.”
Other work either completed or fully underway includes resealing the dome portion of the building, metal roofing and an extended walking track.
Outside crews can be spotted constructing new curbing and undergoing preparation work for a new asphalt parking lot. Sloping extensions are also being added to the roof system so that water runs away from the building.
Expected to be completed by mid-February is the new system for the facility's ice plant and all major electrical work in advance of the delivery of new light fixtures.
The seating area around the rink will be repainted, as well. Seats will be removed and cleaned as that happens.
Problems associated with the project so far have only been minor and mostly associated with underground waste piping that was either the wrong size or deteriorated.
Otherwise, Lund said the project is on time and on budget.
“Seeing the bones of it now and seeing the potential of what it is going to be is just tremendous,” said Geoff MacLellan, the MLA for Glace Bay, who also took part in the site tour. “I’m excited about the progress thus far, but obviously when the first puck drops will be the celebration for all of us.”
Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke said the forum will be a facility that will stand the test of time.
“The deficiencies that were in the original Bayplex will have been corrected and for decades to come we are going to have regulation-sized ice, community program space and truly a hub to fit into the overall recreation master plan for the municipality,” Clarke said.
Once completed, Lund said there’s no reason the building shouldn’t run another life cycle of 20-30 years.
“I can’t say it has been difficult,” he said. “There’s definitely challenges because the building needed some major (work) … but most of that was covered in the original scope of work so we knew what we were up against.”