UPDATED: Bedeque rink back from the brink

Colin MacLean
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Bedeque and Area Recreation Centre launched a new $500,000 capital campaign on Wednesday using $200,000 from Kraft Canada Inc. and provincial sources to launch the campaign. 

CENTRAL BEDEQUE – Duane MacDonald grew up playing hockey in the Bedeque and Area Recreation Centre and now, thanks to his efforts and those of a lot of other volunteers, future generations will do the same.

“This is huge, I grew up here … to see these upgrades come in compared to last fall when this arena was so close to closing down. To see the community pride again, everyone is just so excited, talking about the rink, it’s just great to know that we can preserve it,” said MacDonald Wednesday. 

It was a big day for the rec centre.

Not only did the facility receive the $50,000 owed to it from placing fourth in the country in the Kraft Hockeyville competition, it also announced that it has been approved for $150,000 in funding from the province’s Island Community Fund.

The Kraft money is being used as seed funding for a new $500,000 capital campaign the rink’s board of directors launched yesterday.

The provincial funding is going directly to that campaign.

It’s a huge accomplishment for a rink that, less than a year ago, was one step away from having its doors closed forever. The managers of the rink didn’t have money for critical repairs and upgrades.

But Hockeyville and the corresponding surge in community pride and support for the rink brought the facility back from the brink.

Local resident Kevin Murray attended Wednesday’s announcement with his young son, who’s hoping to start hockey soon.

Kevin remembers being dumbfounded the first time he heard their rink was going to close.

 “It was a terrible feeling, just knowing it wouldn’t be here. I felt real bad for the community and all the kids, knowing they wouldn’t have somewhere to go,” he said.

Jane Murray said her family has used the rink for generations; even helped rebuild it after it burned down several decades ago.

“I’m very happy it’s still in our community. I think it’s a very worthwhile cause for everyone to get involved in and to make sure it continues for years to come,” she said

The whole experience of almost losing the facility all the way to Wednesday’s windfall announcement has been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone with a stake in this facility, said Kevin Schurman, chairman of the rink’s board of directors.

“Last year we were starting with basically just the rink itself and no money. Now we have so much to go on and so much to look forward too,” he said.

As part of the capital campaign, the board has identified several priority projects they’ll need to get done to bring the rink up to modern standards.

Their short list includes upgrades and expansions to the changing rooms and washrooms, a complete refurbishment of the current ice plant and various upgrades to cut down on heating costs and improving energy efficiency.

Repairs to the ice plant will begin as soon as possible, added Schurman, while the rest of the plans will be completed as the campaign progresses.

They estimate their $500,000 goal will allow them to reach all their goals, said MacDonald.

“That’s going to completely revitalize this rink,” he said.

“We’re hitting the ground with a huge head start. Starting today, that announcement from government just blew us away and will help us get this work done,” he said.

Anyone who would like to know more about the capital campaign is invited to the WM Callbeck Centre, 966 Callbeck Street in Central Bedeque, Thursday evening at 8 p.m., for a presentation by the organizers.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

Organizations: Island Community Fund

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