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Community arenas benefit from affordability grant

Denzil, Kerrobert, Luseland, Macklin, Unity and Wilkie all benefitted from a community arena affordability grant program for their season.

UNITY — The communities of Denzil, Kerrobert, Luseland, Macklin, Unity and Wilkie all benefitted from the Community Rink Affordability Grant program, and are among 594 ice surfaces and 379 facility owners who benefitted from this grant in 2021-22

"The $1.7 million allocated to the grant program is an important investment in community ice surfaces and curling rinks, which are important hubs for so many villages, towns, cities and First Nations communities across Saskatchewan," Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Laura Ross says in a press release.

"We hear some tremendous feedback from local volunteers and users about how the investment helps keep activities affordable and community well-being strong."

The release also states, "Coming off a challenging two years, these facilities, along with all community recreation services and spaces, are more important than ever. The government's continued support of the program shows that it understands just how critical recreation environments are for both individual and community well-being."

Mayor Kathy Wurz, Luseland, says, “We received a grant for both the 2020-21 and the 2021-22 seasons. Both payments were received in 2022, one in around February of 2021 and then again in November 2021.

“We apply for the Community Affordability Rink grant each year when the application is sent out. It does help offset some operational costs. Every bit goes a long way in keeping these recreational facilities viable. Particularly during COVID when we had some limitations on our regular hockey seasons and lost our senior hockey team, these grants became crucial in keeping things running."

Luseland’s mayor says their council are always looking at grant and funding opportunities for their community.

Recipient communities all agreed that whether it is skating, curling, or hockey their community’s arena is an important recreation venue offering health and social benefits resulting in happy residents which contributes to the community’s overall well-being.

Lori Fenrich, Wilkie Parks and Recreation director, says, “We applied for the community rink affordability grant on Oct. 18. We received notification that we received the grant on Nov 19. We received $2,500 for the arena and $2,500 for the curling rink. We were also awarded this grant last year.”

Fenrich adds that the money goes towards utilities for the arena and curling rink.

Kerrobert Parks and Recreation Director, Bobbi Hebron, says, “We received a grant for both the curling rink and skating rink after applying in October of 2021, and were notified Dec. 14 that we would be receiving this grant money.

“We are using the grant funding for general operations as every dollar matters. Recreation runs a deficit in our community, so we are very appreciative of this grant opportunity. COVID-19 caused even more problems as local teams opted out of holding tournaments and the West Central Rage opted out of the season as well. Utilities are one of our highest expenses.”

Hebron notes that Kerrobert applies for all grants available including those that provide assistance for training staff and running programs. In 2021, Kerrobert was allocated Sask Lottery money towards their public skating program.

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