A part of history to be torn down

·2 min read

The arena, built-in 1972, has been a fixture in the community for almost as long as Fox Creek was incorporated as a town. Within the arena, walls remain the many memories for parents who’ve watched their children play hockey since they were little and could keep their balance on skates to playing adult hockey. It will be exciting to see what's in store for the future space, while for others, it will be a sad moment as another part of the towns’ history disappears.

The arena hadn’t seen any activity since 2017/18 when building inspectors discovered the presence of asbestos in the arena’s foundation. Although the air quality was tested and deemed safe, the inspector brought further safety issues, which ultimately led to the building being unsafe for public use without first doing significant renovations. As the town has a new multiplex, including the Pembina arena, the administration felt it was not economically beneficial to do the old building repairs and opted to explore other viable avenues to utilize the existing space.

As it turned out, on July 30, 2020, the Government of Alberta announced a Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP) for municipalities, which would aid in supporting capital infrastructure projects and help contribute to local economic recovery and job creations. The Alberta Government set aside $500 million in grant money distributed to those Alberta municipalities that applied before October 1, 2020, and met the program objectives specified. The application reviews went relatively quick, and just last week, the Town of Fox Creek received notification for grant approval for $307,727 by the Alberta Government. To maintain funding eligibility, the Town of Fox Creek must begin construction in 2021, as well it can’t create operational funding costs for the province or result in municipal tax increases.

The MSP grant money will be used to remove the Derald Palmer Arena and the lot repurposed into a space that the community can enjoy. In a media release, Mayor Hailes stated, “The Town of Fox Creek would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Provincial Government and MLA Todd Loewen for the Municipal Stimulus Grant to repurpose the Derald Palmer Memorial Arena site. It will be bittersweet to see removing a building that has been so much a part of our history.

We look forward to the opportunities that this will provide for our community." The planning and preparation for removing the arena will occur once conditions allow.

Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press