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Doug’s 2-minute statement on the Upper Skeena recreation centre project

 

The temperature hit an extreme 40 degrees Celsius several times in the last couple of weeks in the Hazeltons, and there was a lot of talk about lack of ice. But it's not the cube variety, to keep our drinks cold, that the talk is about. It's more the flat stuff that you skate on, because the Ken Trombley Memorial Arena was condemned in March, and demolition begins next week.

There was a celebration — a kind of wake, I suppose — last Thursday at the arena. A barbecue was held outside, and more than 100 people attended to tell stories and plan for the coming skating season. Many of the stories spoke to the great volunteer effort, the community effort, that went into building the current arena 44 years ago. That effort was on display again last week at the barbecue, which was also a fundraiser for the demolition project.

A gweey'ya was held, which is a Gitxsan ceremony where participants are given the opportunity to dance up and contribute money to the pot for a specific cause. Nearly $4,700 was raised, an incredible show of generosity from local people and a testament to how much the arena means. Everyone is pulling together to make sure there will be skating at the site this winter.

The demolition work will be tricky. Large wooden support logs and the shell of the building need to be removed, while protecting the ice surface and boards that will be used to turn the arena into an outdoor skating rink for this winter.

Skating under the stars and moon might sound like a memorable experience, but don't get too enamoured with the idea. Residents of the Upper Skeena know that this is not a permanent answer. The Upper Skeena recreation centre project committee continues on a parallel track. The facility committee has raised $5 million for a new arena and recreation facility to be built beside the old one. They are waiting to hear about provincial and federal support, especially when it comes to gas tax dollars.

All in all, the spirit of community is pulling together, is there today as it was 44 years ago, and shows the true character of the people living in the Upper Skeena.