Calgary arts group frustrated over lack of answers from city on future of old Fairview arena site

Calgary fire crews on the scene of a roof collapse at Fairview Arena on Feb. 20. Global News

A Calgary arts group that serves the city’s community with disabilities is shivering in the cold, waiting for word from the city on the future of the old Fairview Arena site.

The collapse of the Fairview Arena in February not only left the south-east neighbourhood without a rink but it also displaced the Indefinite Arts Centre which was directly attached to the arena.

The arts centre was able to move back in the old community centre building in July but this week, staff and clients have been wearing jackets and using space heaters because utility issues have left them without heat in parts of the building.

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“In the past few days when we desperately needed heat, we weren’t able to turn the heat on because the gas lines were improperly severed,” said Indefinite Arts Centre CEO Jung-Suk Ryu. “So we’ve had 15 C temperatures in the studio space.”

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The group says moving back into the old community hall was never meant as a permanent solution. Ryu says he’s waiting to hear from the city not only about when they’ll get some heat, but also regarding what the city thinks about their ambitious plans to expand the space into a bigger arts centre that would serve even more people with developmental and physical disabilities.

“What we’ve realized is that there is a real shortage of accessible spaces that can cater to the wide range of disabilities that we serve. So we propose to the city and two other public-sector Parcher‘s to re-activate this space in Fairview and to build a purpose-built art space that caters to artist living with disabilities. So that’s our dream. We want to take advantage of the circumstances that we are in but again, we’ve not really heard direction, either way, positive or negative about whether that could be a possibility for us,” Ryu said.

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The Fairview Women’s Hockey Arena Society and Indefinite Arts Society are the licensed operators of the building and are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the facility situated on City of Calgary land.

City representatives plan to meet with those groups at a stakeholders meeting scheduled for Sept. 20.

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“It’s frustrating that we are still in a space that has now turned into a big eyesore for the community,” said Ryu. “There are not a lot of clear answers about what we can do and what our permanent solution is going to be. Just being in the space is not the end-all for us. We want to be in a space that is long-term and sustainable and safe and accessible and has heat.”

In a statement to Global News a city parks spokesman said: “The City continues to work with partners and insurers to remediate the site. The City is also working with the partners to ensure their ongoing needs are being addressed.”

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