Only indoor rink in Cape Breton’s Victoria County in danger of closing

The Victoria Highlands Civic Centre in Baddeck, N.S. is the only indoor arena for miles. It's nearly 50 years old and it's seen better days.

"We were shocked at the level of what's required for the building," said John Trickett, president of the arena’s board of directors.

Trickett says when an engineer was brought in to look at fixing the roof and adding more dressing room space for female players, a whole host of other problems was discovered. 

Along with pieces of the wall behind one of the nets falling apart due to severe rusting, there are also rusting problems near the roof, which is causing mold and other weather damage.

"Essentially, it's like a rusted out car in some of the main areas," Trickett said.  “And over years, that's allowed rain and water to get in and create rusting effects internally and other components.  And mildew.”

The arena is home to more than 100 kids who play in the Baddeck and Area Minor Hockey Association. 

Its catchment area ranges from North of Smokey to Iona - a distance of nearly 200 kilometres. 

Victoria County Warden Bruce Morrison says replacement probably isn't feasible right now, so they're in the early days of looking at potential repairs.

"A brand new rink would be lovely," Morrison said.  "But I think whatever improvements are going to be made will be based on whatever funding will be made available by, particularly, the provincial and federal governments."

Trickett says the hope is to avoid having to close the rink for the 2022-23 season, but he admits repairs won't come cheap.

"For this year, we're safe.  But next year, it's in jeopardy," Trickett said. 

"To get it roof-tight and weather-tight, we're looking at somewhere around $2.3 to $2.2 million dollars.  But that doesn't address the other concerns inside with the mold issues, the wet insulation."

The arena is also home to the closing banquet for the annual Cabot Trail Relay Race and its more than a thousand runners.  It also hosts many other events.

"It would be a big loss to the community," Trickett said.

Trickett and Morrison say the rink’s future will be further discussed with Victoria County council in October.