The township’s decision to close the Wellesley arena for a year has user groups scrambling for alternatives.
Hockey teams were particularly surprised by last week’s announcement after the township deemed the condition of the roof made the building unsafe.
An engineering assessment of the arena roof found that portions of it could potentially collapse in the wintertime. Previous maintenance coatings had failed sooner than anticipated in the last structural review in 2013, resulting in leaks.
“The engineers have determined that the added weight of the saturated insulation combined with a snow load would likely exceed the capacity of the roofing assembly resulting in the possibility of portions of the roof falling in,” the township said in a release June 25.
“Preliminary cost estimates for replacement of the arena roof is approximately $600,000,” said chief administrative officer Rik Louwagie in an email. “In addition the beams and purlins would need to be sandblasted and recoated if the roof is removed as well as other rust removal. It is anticipated that the overall roof project would cost in the range of $1,000,000.”
Among the hockey clubs affected, the Wellesley Applejacks will be moving their equipment, the concession booth, the Blue Line Club, and their games over to the St. Clements arena for the season. The township said it would make every effort to accommodate ice users in St. Clements.
“What can you do? It’s frustrating, completely unforeseen, but it is what it is, and we have to deal with it as we go,” said Terry Brick of the Applejacks. “We just came off from a championship season, and we were looking forward to the next year. This kind of puts a damper on it.
“I just hope the fans understand and continue to watch over in St. Clements.”
The team will be meeting again with the township in mid-July to sort out logistics.
The Twin Centre Minor Hockey Association will also be using the St. Clement arena solely moving forward. Organization president David Dienesch released a post outlining his thoughts on the matter on last Friday.
“In light of this unfortunate situation, I want to ensure our players, families, members, and volunteers understand that our minor hockey association will be working very closely with the Township of Wellesley in the short term to work through our ice requirements for all Twin Centre Minor Hockey Association teams for the upcoming season,” said Dienesch, adding that they will update all involved as more information becomes available.
There has been no decision made yet on whether to renovate or rebuild the arena. The township is currently looking into possibilities for provincial and federal funding.
Some events, including the ABC Festival and the Wellesley Fall Fair, will not be affected due to timing – both occur before the snowfall. There were no safety concerns with the roof above the Jacks gym, which will remain open to the public.
Wellesley has decided replacing the roofing assembly is not a feasible option, as the arena and many of its components have reached their expected lifespan, requiring many other additional upgrades beyond simply redoing the roof.
Phillip Morris, whose family rented out the arena in 2018 for the roller skating club, Retro Rollers, said that the roof leakage in the arena was not a huge secret in town.
“There’s been something wrong with the roof for years,” said Morris. “The roof was leaking while we were roller skating. We had to shut it down a couple of times actually because there was too much water on the floor, which we let them know about, and told them constantly about it.”
Others pointed to humidity issues with the arena, a problem that saw the installation of a dehumidifier.
“The surprising thing for me was they just put solar all up in the roof for the last three years. And it’s like; the roof wasn’t able to handle that? You did all this work, and now your roof’s no good?” said Brick.
“You’d think someone would have said before … you do that kind of work and money that the roof is good for another 10 or 15 years before you have to redo everything. I feel like they missed the boat somewhere.”