The second ice surface will be located at the north end of the Warman Home Centre Communiplex

The long-awaited expansion of the Warman Home Centre Communiplex (WHCC) to include a second full-size ice surface is slated to begin in February 2024.

Construction is expected to be completed in the summer of 2025, with the new facility in operation in the fall of 2025.

Warman City Council voted at a special meeting on Tuesday, December 19 to award Quorex Construction the contract for the project. Quorex submitted a price of $12,894,722.05; the lowest of six bids in a competitive tender process that closed December 14.

The city administration worked closely with an engineering consulting firm, AODBT on the tender process. The lowest three bids were very competitive, with a difference of $503,277.95 between the lowest and second-lowest bid, a variance of 3.8%.

The approved bid was lower than a $14.7 million construction cost estimate prepared by AODBT for the city two months ago.

While the construction cost is $12.9 million (not including GST); there are also additional expenses, including taxes, an upgraded ice plant, contingency costs, and design and engineering costs, that will bring the overall project price tag closer to about $15 million.

Warman Mayor Gary Philipchuk said the need for an expansion to the multi-purpose recreation centre was identified in 2019 as a key element within the city’s recreation master plan.

The project has been in Warman’s 10-year capital plan for several years, and the city was hopeful infrastructure grant funding from senior levels of government would be forthcoming. However, after several unsuccessful applications to the federal and provincial governments, the decision was made 18 months ago by city council to proceed with the project through a combination of borrowing, drawing from reserves, and a dedicated recreation tax levy.

An existing reserve fund, built up over many years as a result of fundraisers by the Warman Sport and Cultural Village, will be invested in the expansion project. The city will also take out a 15-year loan to finance the construction.

Earlier this year, city council voted to implement a recreation tax levy of $75 per property for 2024; and $150 per property in 2025 and every year after that. Money from the recreation levy will initially be directed toward the loan repayment. Once the loan is paid off, the levy will go toward future recreational facilities.

“The decision wasn’t made lightly,” said Warman Mayor Gary Philipchuk. “Careful consideration was given to the financial impacts on residents every step of the way. Moving ahead with this project was not a foregone conclusion, given the uncertainties in today’s construction market. But despite what is still a significant cost, we’re pleased that it is more than 12 per cent lower than anticipated.”

The new rink will be attached to the north end of the building

The two-storey expansion features 2,952 square meters on the main floor, and 880 square meters on the second level. The facility components include a single ice arena, seating for 205 spectators, six change rooms and a second floor lounge space with seating for 150 people.

The additional ice surface is aimed at helping meet the demand for ice time for minor hockey, ringette and other user groups. It will also allow the city to host tournaments.

During discussion at the December 19 special council meeting, Warman City Councillor Marshall Seed said the facility expansion is badly needed. While describing the $15 million expense as “painful,” Seed noted that recreational facilities also create an estimated $4 million annually in economic activity in the city.

“It’s a long-term investment, not just for the current generation, but for future generations,” said Seed.

City Councillor Tracy Johnson asked during the December 19 meeting if the expanded facility will be fully accessible. Warman Recreation and Community Services Manager responded that the expansion will meet all national building code requirements for accessibility. However, the existing elevator in the main building will also have to serve the new area as well, as a separate elevator is not included in the plans.

City Councillor Kevin Tooley said the project has been on the back burner for years, and expressed the concern that if the expansion of the WHCC did not go forward now, the city will someday have to come to grips with the eventual loss of the aging Diamond Rodeo Arena.