Skip to main content

Elliot Lake arena closes; residents say building was unsafe

Elliot Lake residents have been left in a lurch this week as the city’s only arena was forced to close, with city council citing safety concerns.

Residents and tenants of the building say the facility has been dealing with a leaking roof for years despite substantial investments from the city.

According to a news release from Elliot Lake, an inspection on Monday that monitored the building’s structural stability determined a more extensive examination of the wood structure would be needed.

Consultants have been tasked with coming up with a plan to continue the investigation and they say those details should be revealed in the coming weeks.

“What we know right now is that it isn’t safe to continue using the arena for the time being,” said the city’s Acting Mayor Andrew Wannan in the news release.

Wannan says it was a difficult decision to reach.

“As a community, we have been through a lot over the years. Every time we have faced adversity we have pulled together as a team, I am confident we can do the same thing now,” he wrote.

CTV News reached out to Wannan and members of council and were told they were unavailable for further comment.

All programming came to an abrupt end at Centennial including the Elliot Lake Figure Skating Club whose season was scheduled to start on Wednesday night.

“It was a surprise, not completely unexpected, but very disappointing,” said head coach Chantal Robert who admitted there were some tears of frustration Tuesday night.

Elliot Lake residents have been left in a lurch this week as the city’s only arena was forced to close, with council citing safety concerns. (Photo from video)“This is still fresh from last night. We’ve been in contact with neighbouring communities, Blind River, Massey, Espanola, Thessalon to see if they have ice available for us. They also have their clubs so their rentals are almost fully booked but we’re going to do our best and try and get our skaters back on the ice as soon as possible," she said.

“As much as we want it rectified quickly so we can back on the ice, we hope it’s going to get done correctly and ultimately we need a new facility. It’s been under repair for many, many, many years now. It’s not safe,” Robert added.

She says their club was just starting to see some growth and fears what having to travel to surrounding towns will do for families having to pay those extra costs.

It’s common sentiments from the club’s hockey tenants including the city’s Junior A hockey team, the Elliot Lake Vikings, who were playing their inaugural season in Centennial with their new name.


Head coach and GM Chris Keleher said they had one home game before the city shut it down.

“We had first heard about Monday night that we were going to be out of the rink for a week or two, we knew there was going to be engineers in here Monday, Tuesday so like I said Monday night we assumed we’d be out for a little bit and then four o’clock the news came out that it was indefinite,” he told CTVNews.

“Disappointed, frustrated, probably any word you can think of is how we feel about now and we feel first and foremost for the players,” Keleher added.

The team is currently trying to arrange transportation for the team so they can travel to a practice rink in Massey and to towns like Espanola or Blind River for their games.

Twenty-two of them are billets who would otherwise have to do the travelling on their own.

Despite having their own NOJHL teams, Keleher says the support from those other neighbouring towns has been overwhelming.


“We didn’t know the extent of what was going on here so I’m sure the word surprise and shocking has probably been said a lot in the last 24 hours and that’s kind of what we feel as well,” he said.

Both groups have equipment now trapped inside the arena and will have to work to get it out of the building by working with the city.

The Vikings are expected to leave soon for a three-game road trip and then will return to a home game on Sept. 22 in Espanola.

Keleher says the atmosphere in that first game inside the Centennial was electric with hundreds of fans. He’s hoping they’ll follow the team while it waits for Elliot Lake to determine the next steps for its home ice. Top Stories

B.C. boy dies by suicide after online sextortion: RCMP

Mounties in northern British Columbia are investigating after a 12-year-old boy died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound following an apparent case of online sextortion. Warning: This story is about a child who died by suicide and may be distrubing to readers.

Stay Connected