Upper Skeena Recreation Centre

Upper Skeena Recreation Centre



A condition survey of the existing arena building undertaken by Equilibrium revealed that the structure was unsafe and at risk of collapse.

The 44-year-old log frame structure, which had originally been built by local volunteers, had a resistance of only about 15% of the present code requirements with extensive structural deficiencies.

The severity of deficiencies led to the building being condemned and evacuated midway through a hockey practice, and ultimately, meant the building needed to be demolished and replaced.   


The new facility’s construction was initiated by local residents and is designed to be more than a place to play sports — it provides a safe space to come together and a year-round gathering place – important in the cold northern climate.

In a region with a long history of forestry and wood construction, the highly collaborative project incorporates local materials and labour, boosting the local economy and bringing this small close-knit community closer together.


The 31 m clear roof span was achieved with a continuous glulam beam supported at multiple points on angled glulam posts. The glulam frames were an efficient  and sustainable structural solution, left exposed and celebrated as part of the architectural design of the space.

The continuity of the beams results in two beams that cantilever to the centre. Similar to a Gerber beam system used commonly in steel industrial buildings, a third infill beam spans between the cantilever tips on each side, connected with a concealed splice connection.

The central infill beam splice connections are located at points of inflection to minimize the moment transfer and allow for simple shear-only connections.


The infill structure between primary beams use simple doubled-up joists sheathed in ply. A glulam ledger was fastened to the side of the primary beams. This allowed for the direct bearing of the rafters, avoiding the need for individual hangers, and allowing the panels to be pre-fabricated and dropped in place.

Wood was chosen for the roof for several reasons; in addition to the availability, sustainability, light-weight, and visual benefits, the environmental conditions of an ice rink mean that moisture and condensation can often cause durability issues with steel, avoiding the need for galvanizing large elements.


Equilibrium used life cycle analysis to compare the embodied carbon of the wood roof system to a baseline steel option revealed that the steel roof contained 109.2 kgCO2e/m2, whereas the wood roof system sequestered 30.7 kgCO2e/m2.

Therefore, the timber roof system resulted in a net reduction of over 550,000 kgCO2e compared to the baseline steel option. This is equivalent to 120 passenger vehicles being driven for one year, or a single passenger vehicle being driven for 1,382,250 miles.

The building was designed with deconstruction in mind. Simple bolted and bearing connections for the project allow for easy dismantling and the re-use of structural wood members, resulting in an even better positive environmental impact than reported in the life cycle assessment.

Beyond the reduction in embodied carbon from using wood, there were several other sustainable benefits associated with the project. The use of simple light wood framing for the roof and wall panels meant local residents were employed to build the panels and erect the frames, providing skills, training, and jobs to the local workforce. In addition all the wood products that were used in the project were grown and manufactured in British Columbia.

Learn more about the project in the video below.