Construction has started on a major expansion to the Dryden Memorial Arena, part of an eventual $5 million renovation project.

Community Services Manager with the City of Dryden, Steve Belanger, explains that work on the arena’s new community hall space above one of its ice surfaces has started and is set to wrap up by the summer of 2023, with more projects expected afterwards.

This comes after Minister of Northern Development and Kenora-Rainy River MPP, Greg Rickford, joined community partners at the arena to announce a joint federal and provincial $3.6 million investment into the complex in March of 2021. Work was set to begin in 2023, but has been moved up.

The full scope of the project includes the new expansion space, four new accessible change rooms, an elevator, new washrooms with elevator access and a replacement of a variety of aging mechanical systems – one of which is expected to save the city $190,000 in annual energy costs.

Belanger adds that a number of enhancements to the pool area have already taken place this year. They include the replacement of pool boilers and the pool dehumidifcation project, as well as the pool's roof replacement. A new heat and power generator is expected to be installed in the next 12 months.

The City of Dryden is asking residents to adhere to all safety signage and barriers when visiting the Dryden Memorial Arena as construction continues. The arena was originally built in 1978 and hosts over 25 tournaments and special events each year.