John Streicker, Yukon’s minister of community services, left, and MP Larry Bagnell, announce more than $16 million for three infrastructure projects in three Yukon communities on Sept. 10. The federal money is coming from the Small Communities Fund, the same fund that is also helping to pay for a new arena in Carmacks. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News)

Village of Carmacks to receive year-round arena

Mayor Lee Bodie said the community is the last Yukon municipality to receive one

Carmacks is the last Yukon municipality to receive an indoor arena, said Mayor Lee Bodie, an amenity that’s been sought after for years.

“We’ve never had a skating rink with artificial ice,” he said. “It feels so good today to have this finally announced.”

The recently announced plan, a joint partnership between the Yukon and federal governments, is worth $16.55 million.

The territorial government will pay $6.05 million; Ottawa will contribute $10.5 million.

Preliminary construction is slated to begin this fall; full site work will begin in the spring. The project will be mostly completed by August 2020.

“This is something that the village has been working on for six or seven years,” Bodie said on Sept. 7, the day the project was officially announced.

The municipality has been without a rink of any kind for roughly six years, Bodie said.

The new digs will be accessible year-round — a serious upgrade, considering the outdoor ice rink the municipality used before had gone to pot, Bodie said.

“It wasn’t built properly. The frost heaves kept pushing up the cement up and it actually twisted the beams that were holding up the roof. Our insurance company condemned it and said we can’t use it anymore,” he said.

The new 2,500-square metre arena will be like a Swiss Army Knife, able to be converted into a curling rink, a skateboard park, and, lastly, used as an event venue, Bodie said.

“Because there was such a high demand, and this was the priority for Carmacks, we decided to move it forward,” said John Streicker, minister of community services on Sept. 10. “The construction costs are significant, but I think that just speaks to our sense that it’s important to have recreation infrastructure inside of our communities.”

Strong communities, he continued, go beyond the “nuts and bolts of infrastructure”: culture, which includes recreational activities, is a major component of their overall well-being.

In the North, said MP Larry Bagnell, youth grapple with addiction issues and suicide.

“Arenas are community gathering spaces,” he said. “They give the kids a sense of pride. They get them physically fit, so it’s very important for social development, not just athletic development.”

Asked if this project, among others baked into the Small Communities Fund, hinge on the upcoming federal election, Streicker said, “No, not at all,” adding that the money is currently available.

The federal government, he continued, provided the territory with “flexibility” to streamline projects needed in small communities.

“We do have the money for these projects,” Streicker said. “(The) Small Communities Fund is committed. I think it runs until 2023, and we’ll be planning out the remainder of that funding this fall.”

None of the projects officially announced thus far will be affected by the federal election, Bagnell said.

On Sept. 10, Bagnell and Streicker announced more than $16 million in funding for the installation of solar panels in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s Moosehide Village, upgrades to water and wastewater systems in Dawson City, and improvements to controls at the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun water treatment plant.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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