$700,000 grant will finance new stage at Sun Peaks Centre

The arena is set to see some notable upgrades this summer and fall. Photo by Joel Barde.

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) has big plans for the Sun Peaks Centre’s arena, with construction set to get underway this summer. The project is being made in large part thanks to a provincial grant awarded to the municipality last spring. 

The changes will see heavy canvas curtains added to the west and south ends of the arena and a stage built on the north end of the rink. The stage projects will benefit from a $700,000 Tourism Dependent Community Grant and $361,500 from the gas tax fund will be used to pay for the curtains.  

Sun Peaks was one of six resorts in the Thompson-Okanagan to receive a Tourism Dependent Community Grant, which was administered through the provincial government’s Stronger BC COVID-19 economic recovery plan. 

To qualify as tourism dependent, communities had to meet a number of specified criteria, including collecting municipal and regional district tax, having a population of under 25,000, and being located outside of the Capital REgional District or Metro Vancouver. 

The project will effectively create a covered area to be used to host conferences, events, and even concerts in the shoulder seasons and summer months. 

“We feel like the Sun Peaks Centre is going to have tremendous potential down the road,” said SPMRM mayor Al Raine. 

Raine explained the arena walls can be easily taken down, and that eventually rubber flooring can be placed on top of the arena floor. 

As for seating, Raine said there is room for around 2,000 people. 

Raine said the goal is to complete the project in the fall. 

“Our goal is to get the stage completed before the ice skating [is in use], so we would be ready for summer 2022,” he said, adding the curtains will cut down on light coming out of the rink.  

The municipality was unable to provide cost estimates for either the stage or the curtains.  Nicky Braithwaite, acting Chief Administrative Officer,  said  in an email to SPIN that the designs are still being worked on. 

The stage project is also being supported by $174,000 from Tourism Sun Peaks (TSP).

Arlene Schieven, president and CEO of TSP, said the venue will assist the resort in its efforts to even out visitation over the year and create year-round tourism revenue for local businesses. 

“I think it’s really an exciting time,” she said. “We’re at the beginning of seeing how it can evolve and what it can bring to the community.” 

Schieven added TSP was able to achieve a significant amount of savings in marketing expenses over the course of the year due to COVID restrictions, and the stage investment was one of many the organization has been able to make as a result. 

Others include off-mountain, cross-country trail development (for hiking and biking), and funds for future events and special projects and marketing, she said.  
TSP will eventually take on the role of booking and marketing the venue. Schieven said she anticipates interest from a number of different groups, and  TSP may look at working with third parties to book concerts in the space.

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