The City of Fernie has regained access to Memorial arena for the first time since three men were killed in the facility last fall.
The arena has been under control of the RCMP, WorksafeBC and Technical Safety BC since the October 17th tragedy.
That investigation continues with no timeline to when final reports are expected to be released.
RCMP previously told The Drive newsroom that its expected their investigation will still take several months.
However, City staff will now begin their assessment of the damage to the building and its potential future.
CAO Norm McInnis explains the focus will be the condition of the facility’s brine system.
The brine system keeps the rink pads cold to maintain ice.
The assessment will take place over the coming weeks, but the municipality does not know what steps may lie ahead just yet.
The city’s main priority is having an arena open an operating by next winter, however it will not reopen without a new refrigeration plant.
McInnis admits they have no idea how much that will cost but, at this point, he believes there is a future for the Memorial arena and the City won’t have to build a new arena.
The latter option will be considered during the assessment, and McInnis says they will compare the costs of repairs to the current facility versus construction of an entirely new building.
However, he is optimistic it will be as simple as installing a new refrigeration plant.
Fernie’s assessment is expected to take place over the coming weeks, and both Memorial arena and Curling Club will remain closed to the public.
A decision by a provincial judge earlier this month revealed the City took the RCMP to court over records obtained in the police investigation.
Fernie argued the documents were taken illegally, and staff would need them for their own assessment.
The judge ruled it was in the public’s best interest not to interfere with the investigation and the City could be considered a suspect in the case.
– City of Fernie CAO Norm McInnis