NOJHL team dealt a blow

Randy Russon
May 7, 2019

The future of the Elliot Lake Wildcats of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League is murky in the aftermath of a City Council meeting from Monday.

At that meeting, City of Elliot Lake chief administrative officer Daniel Gagnon issued a news release indicating that the city-owned, 50-year old Centennial Arena “has been deemed structurally unsafe and will remain closed, likely for good.”

Centennial Arena served as the home rink for Elliot Lake’s NOJHL franchise.

Major problems with the facility first came to light during the latter portion of the 2018-2019 hockey season when Centennial Arena was closed and the Wildcats were forced to play their home games in nearby Blind River.

Blind River is also home to an NOJHL team, the Beavers.

What you think about “NOJHL team dealt a blow”

  1. After an hour-long pitch from a rep for a Calgary-based company that specializes in pre-engineered structures, the Elliot Lake Ad Hoc Hub Committee decided to seek out quotes from Sprung Instant Structures to replace the roof and wall support system and above ground infrastructure of Centennial Arena. The newly hatched idea would be kinder to Elliot Lake taxpayers in that it would utilize the existing foundation and ice plant from Centennial, then re-do the old site on Spruce Avenue with everything new, from the ground up.

    The Committee also wants info on how any such structure could some day be integrated into the hoped-for Community Hub, planned to be built on seven acres of city-owned land at 151 Ontario Avenue, adjacent to Elliot Lake City Hall. Sprung says that can be done in an integrated structure.

    The step was taken only hours after Elliot Lake CAO Daniel Gagnon made the bombshell announcement Monday night that Centennial Arena had failed structural testing and could not be repaired for less than $600,000, for just a temporary fix. He then announced the arena would be permanently closed. But apparently not now. There were so many attendees at Tuesday’s Hub Committee meeting it had to be shifted from it’s usual home in the City Hall committee room to the adjacent Council Chamber next door.

    With an approved design, Sprung rep Tom Lloyd told committee members the new structure could be erected at the Centennial Arena site in about four months for an estimated upside expense of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000.

    He explained due to the nature of the hybrid pre-engineered system the company supplies, the shell and crucial instrastructure could be moved to a new home at 151 Ontario Avenue at some point, or elsewhere. 151 Ontario is the site of the ill-fated Algo Centre Mall that collapsed in June 2012, with the loss of two lives. The city approved 151 Ontario as the site for the long anticipated Community Hub, after purchasing the land last month.

    Until Monday’s City Council decision was made that the city not re-furbish the outdated Centennial Arena, the plan had been to build a new ice arena along with five sheets of curling ice, a swimming pool and an exercise centre at the designated Community Hub site on Ontario Avenue. Mr. Lloyd, accompanied by Sprung colleague Lowell MacLean, had been briefed on the crisis management scenario which Elliot Lake is operating on as Council grapples with a way to provide a serviceable indoor ice surface that would accommodate the Elliot Lake junior Wildcats, minor hockey interests and the Elliot Lake Figure Skating Club, among others.

    Lloyd played an animated video that demonstrated how Sprung buildings are constructed using pre-engineered aluminum frame sections which are delivered and assembled on site, then covered with interior and exterior membranes with space for insulation and other building amenities in between.

    In the end, Lloyd told the committee, “I’m going to bet you’ll never move it. I’ll tell you why, you’ll have a 60-year building up over you for many other purposes. If it’s not hockey, tell me that you don’t have public works or whatever space issues. Community issues can even turn into a commercial space such as industrial or retail.”

    The Hub Committee recommendations will go to the next meeting of Elliot Lake City council, set for Monday, May 13.

  2. The best rink in Northern Ontario with a consistent fan base is looking for a team. The Igloo in Iroquois and a cadre of volunteers and interested fans are shopping for a team.

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