By Anna Smith
Thanks to the efforts of Bow Island’s skaters during their December 30 Skate-A-Thon, the arena will be getting a new ice plant.
This has been a project in the works for a good while, said Bow Island councillor and Island Vitality Group member Kim Mitchell. The group itself came together with the goal of a new recreation facility in town, but it came to their attention last year that the arena may be in trouble.
“The chiller in the Bow Island Arena was at risk of failing at any time,” said Mitchell. “So then we changed our goal. And we looked into, along with the rec board and council, options for improving the ice plant at the arena.”
Council put down $220,000 in their 2023 budget to replace the chiller, but the Island Vitality Group came together and formed a more ambitious plan to replace the entire ice plant, with the caveat that if the funding did not come together in a year, they would opt instead to go ahead with only replacing the chiller.
“So we came to an agreement that through fundraising and grant applications and contributions from Bow Island Minor Hockey and the Town, we would try to raise enough funds to replace the whole ice plant,” said Mitchell.
Funding came from various sources, including applying for a Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant. What pushed the project over the edge, however, was the late December event.
“It was held December 30. We thought that was a good time of year because, you know, most people were back from holidays, maybe needed some socialization outside of their families at that point,” said Mitchell. “And then gave a chance for any visiting families to come watch the kids have some fun and get some physical activity.”
Participants collected pledges for donations, be it a flat donation or for those who wanted to “make it interesting,” said Mitchell, a per-lap donation as skaters strived to see how many laps of the arena they could complete within a set time limit.
At the end of the night, the Island Vitality Group had collected just under $23,000 in donations, pushing them over their set goal and, hopefully, making it possible for the plant to be replaced. The project will have to go to tender as a municipal project, but Mitchell is hopeful for the benefits to recreation and by extension all of Bow Island.
“Ultimately, we want our rec facilities to benefit all residents and businesses. And this improvement will bring more people from out of town, and it should make the town look more attractive to potential families,” said Mitchell.
A special thanks was given to Doug Conquergood and Brynlee Eskeland for most funds raised, at $3635 and $2540 respectively, as well as to Jackson Veilleux and Tristan Hodgson for most laps completed; Veilleux completed 59 laps, and Hodgson 58.