Climbers now scramble up holds on a 30-foot high wall where swimmers once did laps at the Central Plains RecPlex at 75 Centennaire Dr. in Southport.
Southport CEO Peggy May is excited about the renovated and expanded facility that officially opened on Nov. 15.
"We had a terrific grand opening," she said.
She noted that the new climbing wall is the only facility of its type between Winnipeg and Brandon, and hopes that it will attract many novice and experienced climbers.
May said the recreation facility was part of the former Royal Canadian Air Force base that operated for 50 years before it was closed in the early 1990s. While the centre was still used, the building was in need of repair. An Olympic-sized swimming pool was closed when Portage la Prairie’s PCU Centre, which also has an indoor pool, opened.
May said Southport tenants expressed their desire to see the facility stay open, and with some buildings available for guest rental, Southport’s board members decided to invest in the facility.
In addition to the climbing wall, the newly reopened centre contains a 100-metre running/walking track, and weights and cardio areas. May said future renovations will likely include a yoga studio.
"It’s nice and bright and sunny," she said.
The RecPlex is also home to the fourth Portage Daycare location. This daycare offers space for 30 children aged 18 months to five years.
"We talked to local residents and found that some were taking their children as far as St. Claude for daycare so we knew there was a need for more spaces," May said.
"They (the Portage Daycare) really stepped up. It was a great scenario for us."
Southport is home to residents of 188 rental units. May said, some of the residents were already using the recreation facility, but believes its use will increase with the extra activities available.
"Now we’re getting other family members out," she said.
May is also pleased that Sawmill Tea and Coffee Company will run a food kiosk within the facility. The company is partnering with Portage la Prairie’s Visions of Independence to offer on-the-job training for the non-profit organization’s clients who are living with an intellectual disability.
Director of services for Visions of Independence’s Portage la Prairie office Irene Boyse said the kiosk should open in December.
May said various options are offered drop-in or regular users. Local recreation associations and sports clubs are also using the space for their activities.
For more information on the Central Plains RecPlex, see http://centralplainsrecplex.com
New business fosters training
The Sawmill Tea and Coffee Company will provide more than healthy food when it opens at the Central Plains RecPlex in December – it will also offer training and employment for the individuals supported by Visions of Independence.
Visions of Independence’s Director of Services Irene Boyse said the Sawmill Company is a social enterprise focused on ensuring all abilities are embraced and valued in the community. VOI believes that people with disabilities have so much to offer the employment sector. The first Sawmill restaurant was opened in Boissevain, Man. in 2010 and a second location operates at the Peace Gardens.
Manager of food services for the Southport location Cora Pohl said the kiosk will serve healthy food options, such as wraps and salads, to match the needs of those using the RecPlex. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Twelve people supported by VOI have been hired as trainees at this location and will wash dishes, serve customers and handle cash to start, then will advance to food preparation and barista positions
"We can do individualized training," Pohl said.
Brett Miller, Aimee Chapman and Dean Little are three of the recently hired workers. They worked at the Splash Island canteen in Portage la Prairie over the summer, and are eager to start their new jobs.
"I want to meet some new friends and learn new skills," said Chapman, 35.
"The hope is that they can transfer the skills they learn over to other paid positions in the community," Boyse said.