City Council created quite a stir with their sudden announcement on Tuesday, closing the doors on one of Estevan's revered facilities, the Civic Auditorium, due to concerns with it's integrity.
"During budget season last year, council realized that there needed to be some items put in to make it functional for another hockey season. At that time, they decided not to put in any more money before we get a study done, to make sure that we're not throwing money into something that won't be viable in the future," explained City Manager Jeff Ward.
"Over the course of the summer, there was a project awarded for a structural, architectural, engineering and electrical study. We received the results of that on Monday, and there were some structural issues that could be affecting the safety of the people inside the building. Council discussed it that night and said that, until we got any further confirmation that people would be allowed in the building from a third party perspective, we weren't having any civilians in a place that wasn't structurally sound. We didn't get a confirmation from the engineer that did the study that they would want anybody inside, so at that point the decision was made to indefinitely close the Civic to the public until an assessment and any other options can be presented to council on November 20th."
The City had no way of knowing that there were issues at that point, Ward noted, so they had continued to hold events and such in the building throughout the summer and fall, until the report came in.
The closure has a major effect on quite a few different groups that make good use of the facility and it's ice.
"We did have a meeting with all the different user groups on Tuesday just prior to the media release. A lot of them were very understanding. We can't risk public safety for the sake of convenience of ice time."
He added that the City, including Leisure Services Manager Erin Wilson and others, are working with all the groups to ensure that alternatives are found. Places like Bienfait, Torquay and Lampman may have to bear some of the ice time burden that was previously carried by the Civic.