Demolition crews have begun tearing down a building that used to be part of the heart and soul of Sylvan Lake, north of Calgary.
The roof of the community’s arena collapsed nearly one year ago, likely because of heavy snow.
The town’s mayor and councillors were on hand for the start of demolition as was the man who managed the facility for 35 years. Graham Parsons remembers the NHL players who took part in the arena’s hockey school.
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“Brian Sutter was involved in the start,” recalls Parsons. “His brothers all became involved and Jarome Inginla was there for six years – lots of pros.”
Sylvan Lake’s mayor says the arena has been the hub of the community for generations.
“And so when the arena collapsed, certainly there were a lot of feelings coming out,” says Sean McIntyre. “People had built a lot of memories in there.”
The arena was built in the early 1970s and even before the roof collapsed, there were plans to build a new arena and complex.
“It just rushed our timelines a little because the arena came down a little sooner than expected,” explains Amy Komarniski, who has been helping to coordinate a fundraising campaign.
“That enhanced our need to move the plan along a little sooner than expected, but it also encouraged our community to step up in a huge way.”
Those fundraising efforts for the new $32 million complex are well underway and it’s anticipated construction on a new arena will start in the spring.
It’s likely some items salvaged from the old arena, including speakers, the score clock and rink netting, will be incorporated into the new arena.