Skip to content

Assiniboia celebrates first year for new recreation venue

The importance of dreaming big to achieve world class results is what makes the one-year-old Southland Co-op Centre in Assiniboia such a incredible recreation venue.

ASSINIBOIA--The first year of the Southland Co-op Centre, completed and opened in September of 2022, in Assiniboia went by quickly and the state-of the-art facility continues to attract attention and praise from all those who have experienced it. The multi-purpose facility accommodates needs of all ages and abilities.

Imagine hosting one of Saskatchewan’s largest music events in the first year of operation. That is what the SCC was able to do because of the vision and commitment of the committee and all those involved in seeing this new centre part of the heart of the golden south.

Assiniboia’s Recreation Director, Stephanie VanDeSype, says, “Old arena will be coming up for tender soon. Demolition is set for 2024. That space is still up for discussion, hopefully will be another spot for outdoor recreational activities.” The old rink was built in 1956 and served for decades as the winter recreation facility for residents.

VanDeSype says the old arena was in a state of disrepair and no longer fulfilling the needs of the community as it had accessibility issues, energy efficiency issues and inefficient electrical system so thus had reached the end of its life and hence the decision to build new.

“Thankfully, the Assiniboia Civic Improvement Association (ACIA) recognized this need and prepared and planned ahead. The ACIA is an organization of volunteers who fundraiser for sport, recreation and cultural capital projects with the Town of Assiniboia. In 2021, the ACIA received federal and provincial funding, this combined with all of the fundraising efforts meant that the facility of our dreams could finally come to fruition.” Adds VanDeSype

The community lauds the new arena stating it has become much more than anyone ever expected, now ingrained as the hub of the town and providing opportunities that have never been offered before, such as hosting the Saskatchewan Country Music Awards in June.

Not just a rink, the SCC is home to a walking track, Lakota First Nation Cultural exhibit, teen centre, NHL sized ice surface, full commercial kitchen, multi purpose gym, climbing walls, mini stick rink, children’s room, simulator room as well as an exterior grassy area with large screen.

“This facility has supported the importance of health and wellness in the lives of our residents, and essential function that the existing Civic Centre could not achieve given its restraints. The SCC has encouraged and allowed all members of our community from children, teens, adults, seniors, veterans, and the physically and mentally challenged to focus on and improve their health and well being. “

Assiniboia ensures programs and initiatives are offering including free skating, climbing walks, teen play centre with all the latest technology, children’s room activities, walking track programs, Halloween party, concerts and high calibre hockey games.

“We have big plans for this facility and this community. “The SCC has been deemed a gathering place, a friendship centre, a safe hangout and a place where many people spend a majority of their week, with so many amenities offered.

This multi-use facility has increased the tourism numbers in Assiniboia, and has provided ample opportunities that bring in residents of other communities to stay in our hotels, eat in local restaurants, and shop from in local businesses.

VanDeSype says that a Friday night hockey game in the old arena usually only saw 100 people or less whereas the average attendance on the same night in the SCC is holding between 500-1000. They may not all be there just to watch hockey, but part of the attraction factor includes a state-of-the-art concession that brings people inf or supper or they are there to enjoy the company of many others doe the same thing.

The exterior big screen is a much talked about feature by both residents and visitors alike. The screen has showed football and baseball games and has resulted in people gathering on the grass for tailgate parties, another opportunity to gather and enjoy each other’s company while cheering on sports.

Community seniors are benefitting from the option to exercise on the walking track and skating programs as they can do so in a safe, monitored, temperature-controlled environment.

“We learned the importance of dreaming big in order to achieve world class results. The design team never once looked at cost as an obstacle when designing the facility. The plan was to build a world class facility and not sacrifice the end product. When choices had to be made on budgetary items the choice was always build it to the best of our ability and work harder to raise the needed funds to achieve our dream,” says VanDeSype.

Pride is evident in first year of operation and the Town of Assiniboia says they are grateful to generous organizations who purchased sponsorship and to everyone who rents out ice.

Visitors to the SCC marvel at its features for a town with a population of 2500. Class reunions and sports events participants are often sharing social media posts of the facility. Residents love to showcase the venue to their guests and visitors.

“We are excited to see what other opportunities lie ahead for Assiniboia’s arena.”