VICTORIA -- The District of Saanich is gearing up to replace the G. R. Pearkes Gold Arena ice slab next year.

The 52-year-old ice is scheduled to be melted down and replaced in April 2020 to ensure the rink is able to accommodate programs for years to come.

The ice replacement process will begin with Saanich removing the current ice slab to allow permafrost underneath the slab to thaw before new ice is laid.

The removal and thawing will begin in early April, and construction and installment of the replacement ice is scheduled for fall 2020. During this time, the rink will be closed until approximately fall 2021. However, the rest of the arena and its services will remain open during construction.

The district says that it is aware of the impact that the rink closure will have on the community, but feels that the ice's long overdue replacement could save the municipality money and time in the long run.

"We understand the significant impact the Gold Arena closure will have on our user groups," said G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre manager Graham Thomson.

"Our preference, with our users groups’ best interests in mind, is to have a planned closure rather than a forced closure due to an unexpected slab failure."

Saanich says an unexpected slab failure, like damage to the building's foundation that the aged rink could potentially cause, would result in a longer and more costly closure of the rink than a planned replacement does.

In total, the entire replacement project is expected to cost roughly $2.6 million. Besides replacing the ice, the project will include replacing the rink's elevator, boards, rink glass, arena netting and flooring around the boards.

The district says that more information on the ice slab replacement will be announced as the project unfolds.