It's a much different place than it was just a few weeks ago.
The construction wall is down, the paint is up, and just some final details have yet to be finished before the whole renovation can be called completely complete.
It was the summer of 2010 when the first stages of renovating the lobby of the Elgar Petersen Arena, and construction of a new link between the entire Uniplex and the new Humboldt Collegiate Institute began.
The idea behind renovating the lobby was to completely and visibly link all of the facilities within the Uniplex - community hall, arena, curling rink and pool - through one central lobby area. This involved tearing out the wall between the arena lobby and the pool lobby, tearing down and relocating the concession area, and installing a new elevator to service all levels of the facility. New doors were installed at the top of the arena stairs, and new wheelchair accessible washrooms were built on the upper level of the arena.
In addition to the renovation, construction of a whole new part of the building was going on. In the area that was once outdoor space between the pool building and the curling rink, new public washrooms have been built, along with offices for the City of Humboldt's Leisure Services Department staff, and what will become a fitness centre run by a private-public partnership.
Beyond this new "link" area is the new HCI, which is due to be completed November 1.
Standing at the top of the arena stairs a year after the renovation began and a month before it wraps up, looking down at the new lobby area, Darrell Lessmeister, director of Leisure Services, is clearly pleased with how it looks.
There's new flooring, new drinking fountains, new tables, and - visible from the stairs now that the construction wall that separated the public from the construction zone - a new central administration desk and a clear visual link between all of the facilities.
The doors between the arena and lobby are something Lessmeister is especially proud of. They have full piano hinges, he said, opening a door to show them off, which means they can take a beating and still work just right.
The same sort of doors with two glass panels, he said, will be installed in the main entrance to the building as well.
The doors, besides being sturdy, will lower the noise level in the lobby when the ice surface is in use, and most importantly will keep the temperature zones of the lobby and the arena separate. That means energy savings for the city.
Looking across the lobby from the stairs, a ticket booth is being installed - the city is working with the Humboldt Broncos on that, Lessmeister said. The previous ticket booth area has been transformed into a new staff room for Uniplex employees.
That ticket booth and staff room are located right next to the new central administration desk, the hub of the whole building.
This desk will replace the current reception office for Leisure Services in the community hall area and the desk in the pool, Lessmeister explained. At this desk, members of the public will be able to pay for swimming lessons, ice rentals and hall rentals, all at the same time, in the same place.
The pool staff are to move to the desk first, then the reception for the Leisure Services department will be moved over at the end of the month, when the offices down the hall are complete.
They hope to have the administration desk open seven days a week, and from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, Lessmeister said.
People will now enter the pool through the main lobby of the Uniplex, Lessmeister noted. The other doors will be used as exits only.
With that central administration desk in place and staff able to see into arena, curling rink and pool from that point, Lessmeister is hoping they can keep access to the facilities open as much as they can.
"We don't anticipate closing anything off," he said, but they'll see how things go after everyone is moved into their new space.
For right now, the curling rink lobby is cordoned off, as work replacing the floor and ceiling in that area is completed, but Lessmeister hopes that it will be open most of the time.
There are just a few other things to finish up before the space is completely done.
The elevator, which will be used for freight as well as passengers, is ready to go except for the installation of a phone line for emergencies, Lessmeister said, and those new entrance doors need to go in. The concession still needs to be finished - it should be done by the end of the month and open in October - and another set of doors needs to go in between the bottom level of the rink and the lobby.
Some more renovations do need to take place, however, before the facility is ready to host the 2012 RBC Cup in May of next year.
A tender for the next renovation project - which involves building a new media gondola in the arena, installing a rolling door between what are now two separate dressing rooms on the south side of the building, and enlarging another dressing room into what is now a washroom on the north side of the building - went out this summer. However, they received no interest in it, reported Lessmeister.
The project was too small for the big contractors and two big for the smaller ones, he said.
So the city has decided to break up the work into three different jobs, and will be finding tradespeople to do the work themselves.
They already have someone lined up to install the rolling door, and to enlarge the dressing room into the washroom area. They also may have someone lined up to do the skybox, Lessmeister added.
The aim is to get the work done in December or January.