Columbia Icefield (CIF), the University of Waterloo’s hockey arena, has been awarded $600,000 worth of funding from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program for improvements and renovations.
Built in 1983 and still housing the original systems, the project is set to begin in April of 2016 and will modify the arena’s bleachers, boards, spectator facilities, roofing, heating, dehumidifier, electrical systems, and ice rink chiller.
With hundreds of people from the Waterloo community, minor hockey leagues, and the Warrior athletic teams using the arena year-round, these renovations will greatly reshape the facility.
The Government of Canada launched the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program in 2015 and has since invested in projects across the nation that celebrate Canada’s heritage and its 150th anniversary in 2017.
“The University of Waterloo and Warrior athletics play a very important role in the life of this community,” said Roly Webster, director of recreation at Waterloo in a press release. “Improving Columbia Icefield Arena means we can continue to offer our students a safe and vibrant student experience while also increasing participation in hockey for our community.”
The varsity hockey program is one of the main users of CIF. Brian Bourque, the men’s hockey head coach, believes that these improvements will help the hockey program.
“The technology has changed so much over the years. The large majority of the players that join our program come from the CHL … who in most cases play in arenas that have up-to-date and current systems with cutting edge technology,” said Bourque. “Our hope when this is all done is that we will be at the top of the list for the facility, which includes the quality of the glass and safety standards. For me that’s a real recruitment tool.”
The improvements will not only benefit those on the ice — the spectator areas will also receive upgrades. Bourque hopes this will attract more fans.
“Most people that come to our games I think really enjoy the game, but it’s not alway a great atmosphere as far as the fan experience because the seats and sightlines through the current glass is tough,” said Bourque. “So my hope is the the quality of the seats and the sightlines and just the overall fan experience improves, which hopefully in turn brings more of the student body and the community.”
Peter Braid, MP for Kitchener and Waterloo who announced the funding to reshape the local ice rink, said in the press release, “The CIF is an integral part of our community’s sports and recreation infrastructure and demonstrates the strong partnership between the university and local residents. I am proud that the government of Canada is supporting improvements to this facility and creating a lasting legacy.”