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Rink affordability grant helping local rinks stay open

The Community Rink Affordability Grant has contributed to ensuring many of the small town rinks and curling clubs still operate in the northeast and all over the province.
The Town of Star City’s arena is one of many in the Northeast that is helped by the Community Rink Affordability Grant.

NORTHEAST — A provincial grant is helping out small town rinks and curling clubs operate across the Northeast and the province.

The Community Rink Affordability Grant is a partnership between the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association (SPRA). Applications are currently being accepted for the grant.

The grant was first announced in 2016 and took a four-year hiatus until it was reinstated in 2020.

This grant has contributed to ensuring many of the small town rinks and curling clubs still operate in the northeast and all over the province.

Star City mayor Beth Baerwald said recognizes the importance of this consistent and steady funding stream to recreation facilities. Baerwald mentioned how Star City provides a service to neighbouring communities that utilizes their rink as their secondary rink. Baerwald went on to say the skating rink is now used 12 months a year, with the new sport of pickleball played in the summer. Thanks in part to the grant the Town of Star City did not show a deficit last year.

So far, according to SPRA, in the Northeast 244 facility owners and 389 ice surfaces (241 skating rinks and 148 curling rinks) have applied and $972,500 has already been granted funding for the 2022-23 season to date.

In 2021-22, a total amount of almost $1.5 million was distributed to 379 facility owners for 593 ice surfaces (378 skating surfaces and 215 curling surfaces) in the Northeast region. There are likely around 100 ice surfaces that have yet to apply but with the aging infrastructure, deferred maintenance and rising costs of utilities, this grant has been an essential part of their annual operating revenue. The reality for recreation facility owners in Saskatchewan has become the need for continued fundraisers and increased user and rental fees.

Small town rinks know how eerily quiet they can become with a COVID pandemic essentially halting hockey. With some arenas and curling rinks seeing a two-year hiatus it has become hard to jumpstart back into the season for some. The Town of Star City and mayor, Baerwald said with the Community Rink Affordability Grant it has become an essential tool to help rinks and curling clubs revitalize their pursuit or recreation and keeping physically activity a high priority in the winter months