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Sunday, December 15, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Arena user groups band together to discuss options

Community initiative leads to the formation of the Wellesley Township Recreation Centre Committee

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Invigorated by the possibility of a new arena, community groups have taken the initiative to form the Wellesley Township Recreation Centre Committee. User groups as diverse as hockey associations and the fall fair board have banded together.

The move was spearheaded by Chris Martin, a long-time hockey referee and past president of the Twin Centre Hericanes Girls Hockey Association. The committee’s goal is to outline what the community would like to see out of the new arena. Further down the line, the group will brainstorm ideas to raise money for arena construction.

At the group’s inaugural meeting last week, attended by Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak and township recreation director Danny Roth, the wish-list for a new facility was discussed in great depth. Also broached was whether a new building would sit on the current site or be located on new parkland slated for Queens Bush and Hutchison roads.

“The group’s requests were quite reasonable,” said Martin. “Modern dressing rooms – six dressing rooms minimum, which is the standard for most facilities now. Seating for 800; standing room for maybe 1,000. National Hockey League-size ice surface. The Applejacks want their own team dressing room.

“There was a request from all user groups and community partners to have more meeting space.”

To prepare for the meeting, each user group was prompted by the question: ‘What facilities does your organization need to be the most successful in what you do?’

Each organization brought their unique perspective to the table, generally focusing on the need for additional storage space.

The Wellesley Lions Club requested a space to call their own, while Community Care Concepts addressed the need for a senior’s active living centre. Another suggestion brought forward was a space designed for youth. There was a call for a walking track. The Wellesley Curling Club, as well as the Wellesley Skating Club, both requested storage space.

“Then a pool,” added Martin. “It wasn’t declared whether it would be an indoor or outdoor pool, but certainly people respected an indoor pool is probably a tough ask. So again rather than ask for something very challenging, the request came for an outdoor pool. Similar to what Listowel [Kinsmen Pool] and Milverton [Perth East Recreation Complex] have built.”

The one thing that has yet to be decided is where the new arena will be located. When the council voted to allow funds to be used towards the new facility, the recommendation was that it be located at the new parkland on Queen’s Bush and Hutchison roads.

“It’s pretty much agreed on what to put in it,” said Martin. “I don’t think there’s much more debate over that … although we’ll flesh some more ideas out. The challenge will be the location, because this facility is encompassing all of the amenities.”

The arena would be designed for all of Wellesley Township including surrounding communities such as Linwood, Hawkesville, Crosshill, Heidelberg, rather than solely for the village. It would also be built up to modern standards.

“We’re modelling our arena facility after Mount Forest, Cayuga, and Dunnville,” explained Martin. “Single ice pad centres with other community amenities attached – very reasonable and conservative. We’re not Elmira, Listowel or Stratford. We’re not even Ayr.

“Mount Forest, Cayuga, and Dunnville are modern, well-designed facilities. Mount Forest And Dunnville have Junior C hockey clubs, Cayuga has a curling rink, both seat 500-1,000 … all of them. That’s right in our wheelhouse.”

The Wellesley Township Recreation Centre Committee will be meeting once again in August to sort out further details. A steering committee of six to 12 people is scheduled to meet before then.

“There’s this notion out there that it’s all been decided. I can say the township has not decided,” said Martin. “They’re earnestly looking to see what our group can come up with.”

For those who would like to get involved with the process, Martin recommended contacting the appropriate user group with any requests or concerns.

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