By: Adam Williams 

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality will begin construction of an NHL-sized outdoor hockey rink this summer, with plans to open the facility by the end of November.Unlike the current ice surface at the resort, the new rink will be refrigerated, making use of a system bought from a disassembled rink in Indiana.The boards that will line the surface are from Portland’s Rose Garden, now known as the Moda Center, the sometimes home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

“The idea is just to upgrade the current facility,” said Rob Bremner, chief administrative officer of Sun Peaks Resort Municipality.“There’s a lot of times throughout the year, when the sun starts beating down, that it melts. This allows it to be consistent and available when we say it’s available.”

The new rink will measure 85 feet wide and 200 feet long. Bremner said it will sit around “the next bend” from the current sheet, on recently acquired Crown land, just a little farther from the village centre. A building already on site will be reconditioned for use as a skate-sharpening and rental facility. Bremner said the municipality has invested about $100,000 into the project, between the refrigeration plant and the boards.

The expression of interest period for contractors will close tomorrow. Once interested parties have been qualified, the project will be put out for tender for interested parties to price out. Bremner said he’s not sure what the remaining costs will total, but is estimating between $400,000 and $500,000. The municipality is hopeful construction will begin in the third or fourth week of July.

Though Bremner said the rink will not be a revenue-generating initiative, he’s hopeful a more consistent surface will bring the facility to a break-even point, with skating fees covering the cost of operation. This year, for example, the ice surface was lost unusually early, at the start of March.The majority of the project’s cost will be covered by government grants. Bremner said Sun Peaks received a grant a couple years ago and has been piecing together the rest of the needed funds since. Between 90 per cent and 95 per cent of the price tag will be covered by provincial and federal funding.The remaining expenses will be covered by funds from the resort municipality initiative. The current rink, which measures roughly 50 feet by 100 feet, will no longer be operated. The building on site, which is used in the winter for rentals and skate sharpening and in the summer as a golf maintenance shed, will be used by the golf course on a year-round basis.