Hammering and sawing have replaced the sounds of singing and dancing as the E.A. Rawlinson Centre is using the COVID-19 pandemic to complete some overdue upgrades.
The centre has been closed since mid-March when the province enacted public health orders limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.
Indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities don’t open until phase four of the province’s plan, and gatherings of greater than 30 people won’t come along until phase five.
Neither phase has a date attached as they will come following the evaluation of COVID-19 transmission patterns.
But while the public is barred from the centre, for the time being, it’s still as busy as ever inside.
“We’ve had the chance to really tidy up and organize a lot of the guts of the building that people don’t normally see,” said marketing and events coordinator Cara Stelmaschuk.
“It’s been kind of a cathartic experience just cleaning up.”
Meanwhile, the city’s maintenance crew is hard at work, painting, patching, sanding and freshening up the walls.
“Everything is getting a fresh coat,” Stelmaschuk said.
“We’re getting ready to do some other updates for our signage for the mezzanine level and what each door into the house is for.”
Staff members are also relocating and tidying other portions of the centre.
The main project, though, is the centre’s floor.
The plan is to replace all of the carpets with carpet tile. The project was approved as part of the centre’s capital budget for this fiscal year.
The project has been sent out to tender. According to the request for proposal documents, the project will see about 10,000 square feet of carpet replaced.
“it’s going to be a pretty big chunk of carpet going into our lobby, the north atrium, the green room and the stairs going up to the lobby,” Stelmaschuk said.
The centre isn’t just installing any carpet. The tender documents are very specific as to what flooring is being installed. The carpet tile is named “Narwhal”, and is from Miliken Floors’ Whale Song collection. It’s coming in the “barnacle” colour.
The particular carpet tile was carefully chosen by the Rawlinson Centre staff.
“Our general manager (Roxanne Dicke) is an interior designer,” Stelmaschuk said, laughing.
The brand, she said, was picked a while ago but the colour was chosen to go with the freshly-painted walls. The existing floor tile is remaining in place.
“We wanted an interesting flooring look with the ease of repair that comes with carpet tile so that if something really terrible gets spilled it’s not the whole room.”
According to the manufacturers of the carpet tile, the collection was inspired by sound patterns created by whale communications and the environment in which each is sung. Narwhal “explores the motion of sound through the oceans’ waters”, the designer writes.
“The pattern to us looks like light on water. It really does look like when sunlight is dancing off of a lake or … the river,” Stelmaschuk said.
“It really does mimic to us the pattern of light on water. It’s an exciting choice. It’s a busier pattern but it’s such a big room, it’s going to look really, really good.”
The Rawlinson Centre also hopes to begin work on revamping the bar in the lobby. Work on that project, though has not yet begun.
The Rawlinson Centre isn’t the only city building getting a flooring upgrade.
The city has also put out a tender for 44 new rubber stair treads for the Margo Fournier Centr’es east stairwell. The design for this floor covering was less specific, though tender documents note that preference will be given to stair treads “with hi-vis strip.”