The operator of the Prince George Roll-A-Dome, a multipurpose recreational building, says he will not be renewing his lease due to financial problems caused by COVID-19.
"We worked hard on trying to bring new life back into the old Roll-A-Dome and were well on our way to doing it until Covid-19 hit," Jon LaFontaine and his fellow leaseholders wrote in a Facebook post announcing the news. "We hope whoever takes over keeps this iconic building in our community."
The Roll-A-Dome was built in 1952 and over the years has served as a site for weddings, concerts, flea markets and community sports groups, in addition to roller skating.
In 2015, a "Save the Dome" society was formed after community members became worried rising real estate prices could see the building demolished to make way for new developments.
"It's a second home to hundreds of people," said society president Denise Hogue in a 2017 interview with CBC. "We don't want to see it changed."
In September 2017, LaFontaine formed a new company called the PG Dome and signed a three year lease for the building. He made multiple improvements indoors and signed up new user groups to keep it operational.
But COVID-19 means he can longer keep going, despite the success he was having prior to the pandemic.
"Things were going great," he said. "We were really booked. There were a lot of events ... but the risk and the time commitment to run just one event now makes it unsustainable."
LaFontaine said as someone with memories of playing soccer and ball hockey in the building, the goal was to break even rather than turn a profit, but with a full-time job to focus on, he doesn't think he's the person to move the Roll-A-Dome into the future.
LaFontaine said he's been told other people have already expressed interest in taking over the building, and he hopes whoever does will be committed to keeping the dome as a space for people to gather.
"There's a huge need," he said. "If it does shut down, I don't know what that means for these little communities."