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Still no opening date for South Burnaby arena 4 years after breaking ground

City staff say the Rosemary Brown Arena will open 'soon.'

More than a year after Burnaby staff promised Rosemary Brown Arena would be open this past summer, the new facility is still not open to the public.

The project broke ground in September 2019 and was originally scheduled to open in fall 2021.

The city is hopeful it will open the doors “soon,” but the opening date is still not set.

“We are in the home stretch and are excited to announce an opening date very soon,” said spokesperson Chris Bryan.

He said the project experienced “some delays mostly due to scheduling of trades and material supply delays.”

The city received the occupancy permit just before Christmas, and staff from the parks and recreation department are moving in, setting up equipment and testing the building systems, Bryan said.

“Rosemary Brown Arena will be a wonderful new facility and we look forward to opening the doors to the community.”

The project has been plagued with delays.

In January 2022, staff estimated the facility’s opening would be postponed to December of that year due to delays in the building’s mass timber, which was ordered from Austria and Italy.

But the facility was not complete one year later.

In January 2023, staff told the Burnaby NOW the mass timber delays pushed the whole project schedule back, but the city was “confident” the project would be done “sometime in the summer.”

However, a report to the city’s financial management committee nine months later said the opening would be delayed again from August to September.

“Despite all staff efforts in pushing the contractor to complete works by August, completion is now being targeted for September,” said the report. “Most of the remaining work includes correcting deficiencies for final inspections required for occupancy.”

Charles Allan, director of civic building projects, told the committee the project was estimated to be finished at the end of September.

“There were some concerns with quality of work, number of deficiencies,” including a fault with a piece of equipment that cools the arena slab down, which required reordering and repair, Allan told the committee.

Committee reports in October and November pushed the target date to late November, and staff hasn’t reported on the project publicly since.

Construction lessons from Rosemary Brown Arena

In June, council approved an additional $1.8 million to the contractor Pomerleau Inc. for the Rosemary Brown Arena project, for a total budget currently of almost $54 million.

The increase included money for a pedestrian crossing, additional roof elements like gutters, and public art.

The arena includes two NHL-sized ice rinks that can accommodate ice and dry surfaces, with seats for 411 spectators.

It’ll also have a skate shop, concessions, an instructor’s office, two multi-purpose rooms, and a patio roof deck.

Staff said they’ve learned lessons from the Rosemary Brown project experience and are already implementing them, including getting construction managers involved in the process earlier, according to the city’s general manager of lands and facilities, James Lota, at the September committee meeting.

The NOW asked Lota in January for a more specific opening date on the Rosemary Brown project.

“I don’t want to jinx it,” he said. “But I think it’ll be soon.”