The ice plant at the Ste. Agathe Arena is on borrowed time and will need to soon be replaced in order for the hockey tradition to continue in that community.
Josh Pawluk is President of the Ste. Agathe Arena Board. He says the arena was built around 1978 and the ice plant was installed about five years later. According to Pawluk, the life expectancy of an ice plant is approximately 20 to 25 years. Needless to say, Ste. Agathe's ice plant is well beyond that in years.
"We're working on borrowed time," he says. "The ice plant owes us nothing from what it's done for us and it's time for a replacement."
But replacing that ice plant does not come cheap. Pawluk says estimates from local contractors range from approximately $600,000 to $800,000. For that reason, the Arena Board has started a fundraising campaign, with the goal of raising enough money to replace the ice plant next offseason.
The Arena Board has set a target of trying to raise $750,000 and Pawluk says they are already more than a third of the way there. Thanks to a funding commitment of $150,000 from the Rural Municipality of Ritchot, corporate sponsorships and some grant money, they have already taken in approximately $275,000.
Pawluk says they will be applying for additional provincial and federal grants, while also relying on donations from the community. A fundraising social is being planned for May 13th.
Pawluk says in a perfect world, the ice plant would be replaced this coming offseason. However, he notes there is significant lead time needed for parts, and with supply chain issues, there is simply no way they can make that happen. And, while there is always the possibility that the 40-year-old ice plant says enough is enough, Pawluk says he is confident that they will make it through another winter. He notes they spent a "significant" amount of money this past year in maintenance, just to keep the plant functional.
"(It) will get us through next season as well," he assures.
Pawluk credits the previous Arena Board for replacing parts in order to extend the life of the ice plant. In addition to that, he says they try to keep it as stress-free as possible, by only opening the arena a little later in the season than some other rinks, and then shutting down before the end of March. Pawluk says running the ice plant on warm days makes it work much harder to maintain the ice.
Aside from needing a new ice plant, Pawluk says no other critical improvements are necessary at this time.
According to Pawluk, hockey is a growing sport in Ste. Agathe. And, because they also draw players from a larger catchment area, including Niverville, he expects the need for the arena to continue to grow. Pawluk's desire is for the arena to continue to provide a community meeting place while building memories for residents.
Pawluk says in order for this project to happen next offseason, they need to know their plans by early winter. That gives them about nine months to raise the remaining funds. Should they fail to reach their fundraising goal, Pawluk says he will push to have the money borrowed from the RM of Ritchot in order for this project to happen.