O'Leary rink

Wade Sweet, president of the O’Leary Community Sports Centre board and member of the arena’s renovation committee, and Andrew Avery, rink board member and O’Leary recreation director, are all smiles as the rink kicks off its capital campaign to raise $550,000 it needs to help pay for upcoming renovations. April 1st 2020 marks the third anniversary of O’Leary winning the title of Kraft Hockeyville 2017. Melissa Heald photo

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With the third anniversary approaching of O’Leary winning the title of Kraft Hockeyville in 2017, renovations at the town’s rink could be starting this spring.

On Dec. 20, the board of the O’Leary Community Sports Centre kicked off the rink’s capital fundraising campaign during the Western Winds Bantam game.

“This rink is a big part of our community and it’s a point of pride,” said Wade Sweet, president of the O’Leary rink board and member of the sports centre’s renovation committee. “We really wanted to do things right, so that’s why we didn’t want to rush.”

It was announced this past September that the rink would be receiving joint federal-provincial government funding of $1.7 million for the renovation project. For its capital campaign, the rink has to raise $550,000 to pay for its share of the renovations. With the $100,000 prize money from their Hockeyville win and other monies saved, the rink has already raised $150,000 towards their final goal.

“Our main goal at this point is to refurbish the front, the dressing rooms and make the building more user friendly,” said Mr Sweet. “We could have paved the parking lot and been done right after Hockeyville, but we’ve been able to leverage the Hockeyville money for a much bigger project and something people will see for years to come.”

Tenders for the different aspects of the project will be going out in January. If everything goes to schedule, renovations will begin in April. At the very least, the building’s aging ice plant will be replaced first with a modern and more efficient machine.

“We got the opportunity because of Hockeyville and we can set this rink up for another 30 years potentially,” said Mr Sweet. “We really want to make sure the facility is established and efficient going forward. We don’t want to be in a situation where it’s falling down around us.”

What will be visible for those visiting the rink when the renovations are completed is a newly designed front foyer that’s open, with a new canteen, a glass wall looking out over the ice surface and additional rest rooms. Increasing the accessibility of the arena is also part of the renovation plans.

“It will be a bigger area,” said Mr Sweet. “It will just be a more efficient space.”

April 1st 2020 will mark the third year anniversary of O’Leary winning Hockeyville. The legacy of the town’s Hockeyville win continues to have an impact on the community, said Mr Sweet.

“A small group of volunteers had that vision saying we can compete with the rest of the country and we can be No.1,” he said. “After Hockeyville, we got a whole community, if not a whole province, that believes we can compete on a national stage and win.”

Andrew Avery, a rink board member and the recreation director for O’Leary, said when the renovations are completed residents will understand why it has taken three years to reach this point.

“The plans we are doing, what we’ve been working on, the board has been working on, this is going to be an unbelievable project,” he said. “The final project here is going to be phenomenal and last the next 10, 20, 30 years.”

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