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Provincial grant of more than $300,000 will help Sicamous curling rink with major upgrades

Upgrades in store for the curling rink include a heat recovery system that will improve efficiency and cut back on heating bills.  - Lachlan Labere
Upgrades in store for the curling rink include a heat recovery system that will improve efficiency and cut back on heating bills.
— image credit: Lachlan Labere

Sicamous’ curling rink will be able to proceed with some needed upgrades, made possible by provincial grant funding of more than $300,000.

The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is writing a cheque to the District of Sicamous worth $314,989. The money, funded through the ministry’s Community Recreation Program, will go towards a number of projects at the curling rink, and to upgrades in Finlayson Park.

The majority of the funding will be used for the following projects at the arena: concrete flooring and retrofitting, a new heat recovery system, washroom and lobby renovations and replacement of the front fire escape and stairs. Projects in Finlayson Park include upgrades to four existing dugouts, the installation of four accessible exercise stations for persons with disabilities, the addition of LED lighting along the park’s perimeter exercise pathway and the installation of a washroom near the exercise area.

District interim administrator Doug Ruttan says the total cost for all the upgrades is close to $400,000, and that the district will be pitching in the remainder.

Sicamous Curling Club president Suzanne Carpenter is thrilled with the funding, which she  says will help address some costly deficiencies at the rink. For example, the heat recovery system will help the volunteer society deal with its annual propane expenses.

“Our propane bills are atrocious – We spend $8,000 a year on propane, and half of it is just being wasted because the plant that actually makes the ice and keeps everything frozen generates heat. This way, we’re going to be able to return that heat to the ice area of the curling rink and save considerable money there.”

The rink’s electric bill was about $6,000 last year. The curling club hopes the lighting upgrades will address this cost as well.

The concrete floor will help open the curling rink up for  rental for summer banquets and other events.

“Nothing has been done to that curling rink since the 60s or 70s, with the exception of the roof,” says Carpenter, noting the bathrooms are in dire need of upgrading as they are “really gross right now.”

Regarding the front fire exit,  Carpenter says the existing stairs do not meet the building code.

The rink’s upkeep and operations is currently funded by grants from the District of Sicamous and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, through member registration and proceeds from the rink’s bar. Donations also came in over the past year to keep the rink going. Meanwhile, membership continues to decline.

“This year we dropped  two teams in the mens, two teams in the womens and two teams in the seniors, so we’re down six teams this year which makes a huge difference,” says Carpenter, adding the upgrades would not have been possible without the provincial grant, which she says will keep the rink open, and viable. More important, it will be less of a burden on Sicamous taxpayers if and when the district takes it over. This, says Carpenter, is the club’s end goal. The district already owns the land the rink sits on, but the club is responsible for the building.

“If the building is taken over, then, as a society, we can just run it and maybe hire an ice man in the future,” says Carpenter. “Because right now, it’s just all volunteers and, in this town, they’re getting few and far between.”

The district’s Parks, Trails and Open Spaces plan notes the community identifies the rink as one of its “best community assets.”

The club has written a letter to the district asking that it consider taking over the rink. With the upgrades completed, Carpenter sees this as a win-win for the district and its residents.

“Now with this grant going through it should be a pretty simple process and they’re going to know they’re not going to be liable for a lot of money down the line. For taxpayers, they should be pretty happy,” says Carpenter.

 

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