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Castlegar’s Pioneer Arena gets one more season as housing project start date set for spring 2025

Castlegar’s housing and healthcare project will include more than 60 non-market housing units
A preliminary drawing of the housing and healthcare project planned for the Pioneer Arena site at 925 Columbia Ave. Image: City of Castlegar

The City of Castlegar has announced that construction on the new housing and healthcare project slated for the Pioneer Arena site at 925 Columbia Ave. will begin in spring 2025.

That means that the Pioneer Arena will remain operational for one more ice season.

Current project plans call for a four-storey mixed-use building with medical and para-medical offices on the bottom floor and up to 68 non-market housing units on the upper floors.

The project was first announced in 2023, when the city entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for the project with the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Castlegar Physicians, Prima Health Cooperative, and Axis Projects.

In March, the provincial government announced that it will fund the housing portion of the project through B.C. Housing’s Building BC: Community Housing Fund.

Lu’ma Native Housing Society will serve as the owner/operator for the housing component of this project.

Lu’ma has 40 years experience from developing, owning, and managing more than 1250 affordable housing units, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous projects.

The spring 2025 start date will allow time to complete the detailed design of the project and secure funding for the healthcare component.

“We are excited to be able to announce a start date for construction of the housing project and we are glad ice users will have another year at the Pioneer while the RDCK engages the communities of Castlegar and Areas I and J on the future of recreation at the Community Complex,” said Castlegar Mayor, Maria McFaddin in a May 17 statement.

“This project is one of the ways the city is working to meet the growing demand for smaller, more affordable, housing units suitable for seniors, young families, and those finding it difficult to enter the housing market.”

“We are pleased to work with the City of Castlegar to see Pioneer Arena be operational for an additional year,” said Joe Chirico, Regional District of Central Kootenay General Manager of Community Services. “We will be reaching out to user groups who use Pioneer Arena to ensure they can adjust their usage requests for the 2024/2025 season.”

The city says the project’s concept delivers on two important community priorities – healthcare and housing.

Like many cities, Castlegar is facing a housing crisis. Through a 2023 housing needs report, the city identified a need for an additional 464 housing units to meet the growing demand for smaller, more affordable, housing units.

“Improving primary healthcare services will make Castlegar a healthier and more livable community,” read’s the city’s announcement. “Creating modern clinical spaces will improve services and help recruit and retain healthcare professionals.”

Ellen Smart, Castlegar Physician Representative, previously said, “We are proud to be working within the community of Castlegar. We believe this new building will improve access to family physicians and enhance the ability to attract health professionals because team-based care is a very desirable model for new physicians.”

The closure of the 65-year-old arena has been imminent since 2016, when the Regional District of Central Kootenay identified that it was nearing its end of life. Because of this, the city says repurposing the city-owned land at the arena site was a good choice for the project. This city also lists easy access from Columbia Avenue, the central location, proximity to the Castlegar Urgent and Primary Care Centre, Emergency Room, and Talarico Place, as well as the site’s flat surface and size as positive features.

The RDCK has already begun an engagement process with residents in the City of Castlegar and Areas I and J to reimagine the future of recreation at the Castlegar & District Community Complex.

This process is intended to hear from residents on how they imagine the future of recreation at the Complex. Part of this discussion will include the impact on ice users, due to the closure of Pioneer Arena.

You can share your thoughts at

The city says it recognizes that the Pioneer Arena is an important space for ice users and has been the result of many community volunteer efforts. Plans are being made to recognize the importance of this piece of history and the city would like to hear from people and groups who played a role in building and improving the Pioneer Arena.

If you have information to share, contact

Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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