Operators of Surrey’s Excellent Ice arena want to expand the facility by adding classrooms to become a hockey academy.
Surrey-based Lark Group seeks council approval to develop a private school on the arena site, on 54A Avenue in the East Panorama area, as a permitted use within an existing commercial building.
The development company, which built and opened the arena in 1999 and has operated it ever since, wants to introduce a private school regulated under B.C.’s Independent School Act.
The school, known conceptually as Excellent Ice Academy, would be for students in Kindergarten through Grade 12, notes a report due before council on Monday (Feb. 25), in a public hearing.
“The applicant is expecting a total of 100 students on opening day, with the maximum number of students of 300 in the ultimate condition,” notes the report, which includes renderings of the proposed expansion.
Contacted Thursday (Feb. 21), Lark Group senior vice-president Kirk Fisher said that with city council’s approval, the company hopes to open the expanded facility in September 2020.
“We’ve had our ice arena there for 20 years and we’ve always had hockey schools and now we want to add a real academy with classrooms and a full school,” Fisher told the Now-Leader.
“We’ve been in Surrey for 47 years and we try to promote and grow Surrey, and we believe Surrey needed another opportunity for kids to take private school and for kids to focus on not just education but also sports, and it would also have a dance program as well,” Fisher added.
Fisher, whose child plays peewee rep hockey with the Semiahmoo minor association, said the academy would not involve hockey teams, only skill development, and would not be part of any league.
“We have minor hockey associations that play in our existing facility, and we’re doing this to promote and grow minor hockey, not to take away from minor hockey,” Fisher explained.
“For the school we’re hoping to start with a few grades and slowly roll up and grow up in numbers,” he added. “It’s mostly for quality of education, and next to that it’s about getting as much sports time, outdoor time, education time, body of movement, as you can get.”
Excellent Ice was built as a two-sheet arena in 1999 and expanded five years later to include a third sheet of ice. The facility’s “mini” rinks are popular for 3-on-3 Youth Pond Hockey League teams each spring, among other uses.
For the proposed expansion of the facility, the city’s Planning & Development Department recommends introduction of a zoning bylaw amendment. A development permit is also proposed to allow for exterior modification to the building, for classroom space.
“The proposed private school is considered a complementary use to the office and commercial uses already permitted in the area,” the report to council notes.