The District of Fort St. James announced Monday an award of $2.9 million through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program for upgrades to the Fort Forum Arena. The federal government contributed $1,199,760 alongside $1,799,640 from the province.
Fort St. James Mayor Bob Motion said among its “many benefits to the community” the project will ensure the space lasts the test of time while expanding recreation and also reducing the municipality’s carbon footprint.
The arena has been an important hub for community sports since it was built in the early 1950s as an outdoor ice surface is dependent on the weather to stay frozen.
It’s the go-to spot for residents of all ages and skill levels to participate in sports and recreation, having produced such notables as former Calgary Flames Coach Jim Playfair and his brother Larry Playfair of the Buffalo Sabres and the Los Angeles Kings.
Local speed skater Jaime MacDonald, who competed Short Track at the Pyeong Chang Olympics in 2018, also cut his skates on that ice.
The district plans to complete upgrades to the exterior, interior and bleachers as well as to install infrared heaters above stands, among other things.
Those improvements along with the installation of the new freon ice plant will help to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 1 ton each year, according to the district.
District CAO David Schroeter said there will be engagement and consultation sessions with the community and user groups as renovations take place over the next 2-3 years.