The EJ Broomfield Arena in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is getting accessible seating for the first time.
Council approved funds for a new ramp and seven accessible seats at the arena during a council meeting on April 30. The total cost of the upgrades to the arena will be $900,000 and is coming from the New Building Canada Fund – a federal/provincial/municipal partnership.
Jackie Compton Hobbs, town councillor and head of the recreation committee, said following the removal of the old ramp last year they heard loud and clear from residents that something had to be done.
“When we removed the old ramp, that’s when we started hearing from people,” she said. “People in wheelchairs need to be able to access the arena, obviously, and now we got the funding and are moving forward.”
Phase one of the renovations to the arena, which comes with a pricetag of $60,000, started last week and will be the ramp and the new seats. Compton Hobbs said it would be done before the biggest soccer event of the season in town, the Lab Cup.
“The place is packed then and there are a lot of people, parents, family members and members of the community who will want to go and need this in place,” she said. “It’ll be done before that.”
The previous ramp had to be removed last year just prior to the Lab Cup and it created issues for residents.
The Labrador Voice spoke with town engineer Randy Dillon about the ramp last year and he confirmed numerous safety issues were identified, including the ramp was about three times steeper than it should have been.
“When the town became aware that the ramp didn’t meet the national building code nor the building accessibility regulations ... in the interest of safety of anybody who is mobility impaired, we had to take the ramp off,” Dillon said at the time.
A temporary solution was using a lift which can take them upstairs and into a room that overlooks the action at the arena.
Compton Hobbs said that wasn’t a good situation for anyone and while it got people in the arena, watching from upstairs isn’t quite the same.