Throughout Saskatchewan, arenas are the centre of many communities all year long. They are used to house cabarets and other events during the summer, and in the winter, are where people come together to watch hockey, skate, curl, and more. A number of communities have natural ice rinks, which means no chiller plants, and having to wait until the winter officially settles in before the ice can go in. Others have the facilities needed for the ice to be made on demand.
Many of the arenas are older buildings, such as the one in Francis. The community, 48 kilometres north of Weyburn, has an old hangar, constructed for the Second World War to be used as a training facility, that was converted into the arena. However, after almost 100 years of use, and enduring a number of Saskatchewan winters, the facility is starting to show its age. A number of the beams at one end of the rink are starting to split, leading to a risk of failure. How to best handle the situation was the topic of a town hall meeting in Francis Sunday night.
“We were, as a rink board, very thankful for the turnout,” said Stuart Hall. He is one of the members of the rink board in Francis and helped to promote the meeting and the situation the rink is facing, through social media, such as TikTok. “Lots of members of not just our community, but communities surrounding us that all use the rink, whether it be for training, sports, even just public skating, were able to come out and voice their opinions.”
The options those attending the meeting had before them were to temporarily brace the beams and remain closed for this season, or push to get the repairs done now, at a sizable cost, ahead of the skating season.
“We came to the conclusion that, unfortunately, the rink will be closed for this 2023-24 season,” Hall continued. “However, some more committees are going to be put in place, and some more fundraising is going to take place over the coming months here in order to complete the repairs on the rink. We were able to come to the conclusion that the community does want the rink to remain open, wants it to be fixed the right way, correctly, not patched together or scabbed together, to hopefully see it last for a couple more decades.”
The work for the fundraising started right at the meeting, with a number of people stepping up to donate their time and pledge money for the work to be done. Hall noted there were $40,000 in pledges made during the meeting, a strong start, but there will be more work that is needed in the coming months.
The use of social media to get the word out has also caught the attention of a number of people, Hall said.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a few Saskatchewan country music icons reach out, and want to help with events such as cabarets, fundraising in whatever ways they’re able to help as well.”
The main push for fundraising outside of any organized events is being done through the Francis Skating and Curling Rink Facebook page. Hall explained those who are looking to help out through a donation can reach out to them via email to set something up. Aside from that, he urges people to pay attention to social media, such as Facebook or TikTok, for events that could be coming up in the months to come.
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