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North Bay arena pegged at $30M

Construction is slated to start in late summer, becoming operational in 2022

Replacing the West Ferris arena in North Bay with a new community centre with twin pad ice surfaces is expected to cost somewhere between $30 million and $32.5 million.

The price reflects the $390-per-square-foot cost and a construction contingency of five per cent.

A joint venture between MJMA Architects in Toronto and North Bay’s Mitchell Jensen Architects, residents got their first glimpse at their designs at an open house at city hall on Jan. 15.

A third of the way through the design process, the architects have been meeting with stakeholders to gather their input.

Reducing the originally proposed size of the facility from 90,000 square feet to 74,000 square feet resulted in a cost saving of $6.24 million.

The architects were looking for a plan that efficiently uses public space and shared space.

It was felt the unique trident design consolidates the public space in the centre and allows for viewing to all spaces.

Marc Downing of MJMA Architects says they were not sure they could get that same efficiency out of a side-by-side design.

“The request for proposal document we looked at listed around 90,000 square feet of building program, but when we compared that to the available budget, we thought maybe the area of the building would be one way we could target some efficiencies," said Downing.

“Working with the stakeholder group, we found some spaces in the building that could function in a multi-use way. That is the way we looked at reducing the original area so we could get it more in line with the budget.”

The trident design provides for two NHL-sized ice pads, a second-level walking track with elevator access, and 14 changerooms with the ability to combine some of the rooms to accommodate football teams.

The rink referred to as the tournament pad has seating for 250 to 300 spectators, while the practice pad can accommodate 100 to 150 people.

The walking track can also serve as an added spectator space.

“In facilities that MJMA has designed in the past that have walking tracks, they often become the most exciting and sought-after viewing spaces in the facility. It can accommodate anywhere up to 250 or 300 people on the walking track as well,” explained Nathan Jensen of Mitchell Jensen Architects.

The layout of the facility is intended to work with the existing landscape.  

“It is obviously a very beautiful site. It has natural features, but it also has this very impressive, beautiful Omischl Field complex that already exists, so we wanted to make sure in designing this facility that it is integrated with the natural landscape, and took advantage of the existing features.”

North Bay Mayor Al McDonald, who originally wanted the complex at Memorial Gardens, likes what he sees.

“I absolutely love the design. I like what they put together and the fact they are going to make it as energy-efficient as possible I think is key to what I really like about the project,” said McDonald.

“I think the walking track was critical to the design. And there is quite a cost to that. I think it was $1.7 million to put the walking track in, so it is substantial. With the trident view, when you walk in you can see both rinks. I like the fact that they have incorporated it so that it is overlooking the park area at the Steve Omischl complex, the fact you can walk out and you are under a sheltered part of the roof and that there is lots of glass. I think it is something our community can be very proud of.”

City Coun. Chris Mayne, who sat on the arena committee prior to the last municipal election, is pleased with the design.

“This has been ongoing since 2014. Three years ago, we went through the exercise on the arena committee to settle on a location which we’ve done," he said.

"It is interesting now to see the architectural firm coming forward with some actual designs, how they’re trying to manage between the location, how they want to serve the existing sports fields with change facilities, public space for meetings, potentially to hold conventions or conferences. They really are doing everything they can to make it into a community centre with multi-use.”

The plan includes a designated food services area. Details are to be determined on how the concession will operate and who will operate it.

Based on first impressions, Heather Chambers, chair of Sport North Bay, likes the initial plans.

“I’m impressed. Looking at some of the photos of the other arenas they’ve done and community centres, they’ve certainly done a great job on those,” said Chambers.

“It is quite an intriguing design. I hadn’t anticipated the shape.”

The plan is to be tender-ready in late summer, early fall with construction to start shortly afterward.

The goal is to have the first puck drop in September 2022.

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