St. Eustache Minor Hockey Association is hoping to repair St. Eustache Arena with a new tool — soybeans.
The Rural Municipality of Cartier is leasing 130 acres of land near the municipal dump to the association for free. The association will use the land to grow and harvest soybeans this year. The profits they make will go to fixing the deteriorating arena.
"There’s always a list of things to do on the building," said Richard Bell, STEMHA’s president.
There are leaks in the washrooms upstairs; the emergency doors need repair. The Zamboni room is sinking into the ground and pulling away from the arena, as is the lobby, Bell said.
The rink has been around for over half a century, and it needs a new roof. A repair to stop leakage would cost at least $100,000, while a new roof with insulation and lighting could total up to $500,000, Bell said.
The current soybean project likely won’t be for a new roof — that will require government funding — but it will raise money for the smaller projects.
The association usually acquires between $8,000 and $15,000 per year through ice rentals, and the canteen pulls in another $8,000 to $9,000, Bell said. With the pandemic, this was impossible in 2020.
So, in the summer, the association reached out to the municipality about a farming fundraiser. The two entities came to an agreement, signing a contract effective Nov. 1 through to the end of October 2021, where the association could grow and sell their crops without land rental payments.
At least 80 per cent of the project’s costs have been covered by donations, according to Adam Legault, STEMHA’s equipment manager and one of the fundraiser’s leads.
The association approached Richardson Pioneer Starbuck, an agricultural business, about the project; the company led them to donated soybeans — Brevant seeds — from Corteva Agriscience. BASF has donated seed treatment. AgWest in Elie is lending any necessary farm equipment, like tractors and sprayers. Shur-Gro Farm Services, another company in Elie, did soil sampling at the end of 2020, and Prairie Roots Co-op in Marquette made a donation to cover fuel costs.
"The response from local companies has been overwhelming, so it’s been a lot easier (of a) process than I expected," Legault said. "We’re in a very good position to turn a profit."
How much of a profit will be dependent on the weather and the market later this year, Legault said.
The association has never done a fundraiser of this scale for St. Eustache Arena before. All board members are helping out in some way, and many are farmers, Legault said. Farmers in the community have also offered their time.
STEMHA’s volunteers work hard and rarely get any thanks, said Reeve Christa Vann Mitchell.
"We’re hoping that, like everybody else, they’ll have a good farming year and their hard work will pay off," she said.
Folks who want to participate in the fundraiser can call Legault at 204-794-5709.
The Headliner community journalist
Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can find Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org