WESTLOCK – Jubilee Arena has received a brief reprieve from the wrecking ball, as Town of Westlock officials now expect the next phase in the demolition of the 59-year-old facility to start early next week.
In a Sept. 15 e-mail, town communications and marketing coordinator Debbie Mottus said the roof of the facility is now planned to come down Tuesday, Sept. 20 — following the removal of hazardous waste in Jubilee, town officials had previously stated the next phase of the $280,000 demolition would start the week of Sept. 12.
The demo was initially budgeted to cost $1 million and funded via unrestricted reserves in the town’s 2022 capital budget, although town CAO Simone Wiley said previously there will be additional costs to landscape the site in 2023 — Jubilee Arena, which was initially called the Westlock and District Jubilee Family Recreation Centre, opened July 13, 1963, and cost $75,744 to build.
At town council’s Sept. 12 meeting, operations director Robin Benoit said concrete from Jubilee will be recycled at the local Lafarge Canada site “and doesn’t cost us anything” while the contractor did give them a credit back on the metal that can be scavenged “so there was some good savings from that end.”
“They intend to take the roof down in two days, that’ll be the first thing they do,” Benoit told councillors Sept. 12. “And once the roof is down, people are no longer interested in entering the building. Then it’s four weeks after that.”
Jubilee Arena was supposed to come down following the opening of the Rotary Spirit Centre (RSC) in 2012, but those plans were shelved following the discovery of asbestos — a report from that year stated that 16 of 26 building-material samples tested positive for the substance.
In late 2018, the council of the day talked about demolishing the building and briefly considered renovating it for use as a warm-storage facility. But when faced with a $1 million price tag for that work, or $900,000 to simply bulldoze it, council put the issue on the backburner.
Although Jubilee was long-since shuttered prior to his arrival in Westlock, community services director Gerry Murphy said he has fond memories of the barn from when his son played in Smoky Lake.
“I’ve got some good memories of Jubilee for sure. Of course, we’d still brag about our heated seats in Smoky Lake,” said Murphy with a chuckle.
Murphy is definitely looking forward to the additional parking as usage of the RSC has ramped back up to pre-pandemic levels with minor hockey, fun hockey, ringette, the senior Warriors, adult hockey, the figure skating club and even Barrhead hockey groups all fighting for ice time this winter.
“We’ve always been challenged for parking there, but another benefit will be that from the road people will actually be able to see what the Spirit Centre is as opposed to it hiding behind Jubilee,” said Murphy Sept. 14. “I think it’ll be an opportunity to be able to showcase the Spirit Centre a little more.”