Years of effort have finally paid off for board members at Garden City Community Centre, who officially announced a project long in the making last week.
It was officially revealed on Feb. 21 that shovels will soon be going in the ground to build a new twin-arena complex at the Kingsbury Avenue centre. Attending the announcement were Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz, Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan), Hockey Manitoba executive director Peter Woods and provincial Advanced Education and Literacy Minister Erin Selby.
"This is indeed an important project for Garden City and the surrounding neighbourhoods, one that families will enjoy for many years to come," Sharma said.
The 100,000-square-foot multiplex, to be dubbed Seven Oaks Arena, is expected to be completed by fall of 2014. It will offer two skating rinks, a multi-use space, fitness and retail spaces, and 3,000 square feet of programming space on the structure’s second floor.
"This is going to be a tremendous help, adding these twin ice sheets," Garden City CC president Andy Haworth said.
"The whole Seven Oaks area is going to benefit from having this. No more travelling to Balmoral, or going to Garson or Stony Mountain on a Sunday night at eight."
Haworth said the announcement was emotional, as the project has been long in the planning.
"Starting four years ago, it was just sitting around, drawing and doodling on paper, deep down probably knowing we’re not going to get anywhere," he said.
"But as we went on, we dug deeper, put our heels in more, and the meetings became more positive. It’s finally here . . . It’s so great for everybody."
According to a release issued jointly by the City and the province, the city’s executive policy committee has been asked to consider funding the $17-million project jointly between the City, the provincial government and the community centre’s board, with each providing one-third of the funding.
The city will own the arena but its operation and management will be in the hands of the community centre. Katz lauded the work of Garden City CC board members, and referred to the value of putting facility operations into the hands of community members.
"Although the city will own the asset, it will be run by the volunteer board members and others," Katz said.
"In my very humble opinion, I think they can do a much better job than what’s going on right now with our hockey rinks."
Haworth said after shovels go in the ground this spring, the board’s members will continue to be involved every step of the way.
"We’re going to see it right through to completion. We’re all going to be doing odd jobs through the arena complex. The soccer complex is right next door, that’s going to be booming busy. It’s going to be great," he said.