Wembley arena will be better than ever: Ag society

·2 min read

The Source Energy Arena in Wembley may be re-opened by October.

Progress is being made after a devastating fire last June, said Eric Sundstrom, Wembley and District Agricultural Society president.

The ag society has worked with its insurance company and recently received the documents it needs to move forward with repairs, said Sundstrom.

After the society’s insurance policy pays out on damages, up to $1 million will be required to get the building re-opened, said Sundstrom.

The ag society is also interested in enhancing the facility at additional costs.

Estimates are currently “loose,” and Sundstrom couldn’t put a figure on the total costs of repairs are, nor how much will be covered by insurance.

“It’s been a long road and a big struggle dealing with insurance,” he said.

Sundstrom said the ag society was “under-insured about 37 per cent ... which equates to potentially up to $1 mil- lion the ag society is on the hook (for) in the repairs of the building.”

Repairs are needed to address the smoke damage throughout the building, as well as the reconstruction of the multi-purpose room, the storage room and kitchen, which were “completely destroyed,” he said.

The ice plant and electrical system were also damaged, he noted.

Sundstrom said the ag society has been in discussions with Town of Wembley and County of Grande Prairie representatives about collaboration to repair the building. Until reparation costs are solidified, the society can’t make an ask for financial support.

“There’s definitely been some interest from industry and from local community members in what they can do to help the ag society move forward,” Sundstrom said.

Industry partners have also been interested in potentially supporting upgrading the building in accordance with the ag society’s 2018 feasibility study, he added.

Sundstrom said the upgrades could cost an estimated $5- to $6 million, but that depends on which additions the society chooses to pursue.

A feasibility study, completed in 2018, proposes upgrades including additional storage space, dressing rooms for the sports field users and new washrooms, he said. It also proposes a new ice plant.

The study identified long-term needs for an expanded fitness centre, commercial kitchen for the multi-purpose hall, and a 1,115 square-metre single-storey addition to the building to accommodate these needs.

Estimates also include $165,000 for structural upgrades, $212,000 for mechanical upgrades and $550,000 for a new firewall, according to the study.

In a post to social media, the ag society requested community members weigh in on features they would like to see in the facility and what programs and activities should be offered.

Sundstrom said feedback can be sent to wembleyagsociety@telus.net or shared with the ag society on social media.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News