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First Peek Inside Niverville’s CRRC

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Crrc Team Crop
The team behind the CRRC. Sara Beth Dacombe

On Tuesday, August 18, the Town of Niverville offered a tour for the media to check in on the progress of the new Community Resource and Recreation Centre (CRRC), which will reach completion in the spring of 2021.

This is a delay from the original projection, which had been this upcoming fall.

Steve Fast, owner of general contractor Von Ast Construction, explained that the delays are due in part to supply shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Aluminum became hard to come by for a while, as it was being used to support the plexiglass shields many businesses were putting up for COVID,” said Fast. “But now we’re back up and running. Supplies from the States kept moving, though, as the borders were not closed to building materials, which we’re thankful for.”

Fast went on to describe the design-build model used to plan out the energy-efficient building and its progress to date. So far the centre’s foundation, supports, and roof are nearly complete. The only concrete remaining to be poured is the rink floor, where the ice will sit, and the indoor corridor that will link the centre to the Niverville High School. Once those are complete, the foundation will be considered to be done.

The interior is now beginning to take shape, including the arena space and masonry walls for dressing rooms, the second level in the middle of the building, and the multiuse fieldhouse on the opposite side of the arena.

The large multiuse fieldhouse and arena spaces are separated by thick cinderblocks which form the walls of the dressing rooms and bathrooms. The floor above the dressing rooms are pre-cast hollow core concrete that were placed on top of the cinderblock walls individually by a crane to a high degree of precision.

The second floor space above the dressing rooms will house breakout rooms and meeting rooms. A running track will follow the perimeter of the second level of the fieldhouse.

The fully accessible building will also have a historical space on the second floor which will present Niverville’s growth in a public exhibit, curated by a University of Alberta professor. This exhibit will feature a glass wall, enabling visitors to view the indoor playground.

A geothermal energy system, provided by a company called Earth4U, will support the heating and cooling of the building, making it much more efficient to run than the existing arena. The pipes are currently visible at the north side of the arena space, but they run underneath the building and football fields by the high school to convert the heat of the ground into energy, controlling the temperature of the entire centre.

Ductwork for the building is just beginning to get underway.

“[Geothermal pipes] are buried underground and provide heating and cooling for air so that you don’t need to use natural gas or electricity,” said Town of Niverville CAO Eric King.

“And it will be less costly to cool the ice area in this arena than the old arena,” said town councillor John Funk.

Fast also spoke to the efficiency of the building being able to keep the ice area cool and the rest of the building warm. “The panels for the walls of the building are thick,” he said. “Four-inch by 22-inch. It’s an entirely different build.”

The area known to the builders as the fieldhouse will be home to a gymnasium-like space with hardwood floors, but it will be convertible and customizable for meetings and other public functions. The town foresees that it will be used for large group gatherings, such as high school graduations, concerts, town receptions, and Remembrance Day ceremonies—just to name a few possibilities.

Next on the list for the construction plan is the electrical work, which has so far been roughed in. Pipes have been installed in the ground, ready for the lines to be fed through, and transformers are ready for hookup from the exterior. Steel studs and more interior framework are also scheduled to go up shortly. And the interior design plans have already been finalized by the design-build team and the town.

The arena is intended to support up to Midget 3 hockey, but where it will really shine is in its support for community recreation.

“This is grassroots,” said King. “This isn’t about having all 22-year-olds who hope to be in the NHL next year. This is about five-year-olds having the same opportunity to play on ice as the 22-year-olds. And it’s not just about sports, at the end of the day. It’s about community and education. The networking with the high school is invaluable, too.”

The CRRC’s mandate is to serve the needs of the entire community, people of all ages, year-round. This became especially evident as the team talked about where the commercial kitchens will be located, as well as the corridor link to the high school, enabling students to enjoy the building, receive a variety of other types of training, and conduct project work in the spacious and unique centre.

“Thirty-two years ago, when I first ran for council, this was on my platform, that we were going to build this,” said a visibly pleased Funk.

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