Reinvigorated planning for a new arena in Boissevain is well underway.
While it’s the community has been pushing for the facility for the past decade, this latest wave of planning carries a greater, earnest force.
Though planning is still in its early stages, Municipality of Boissevain-Morton Head of Council Judy Swanson said the goal is to break ground within a few years.
As it stands, much the project — including its cost, funding source and design — remains up in the air.
"We really need the input from the community," said Swanson. "They’re the users of it and the people who will own it … so we need to know from them what they thing.
"We’re in the process of getting a building committee and a fundraising committee going, and those are the people who will bring the final suggestions forward to council."
Grant applications have been put forward to both the federal and provincial governments, and Swanson said whatever funding comes in will be bolstered by municipal and community fundraising dollars.
Although fundraising "is probably going to break a little touchy during COVID," Swanson said she has great faith in her community’s ability to band together.
The Southwest Senior Housing assisted-living complex is a fine example, she said, noting the community managed to raise $2 million for the 35-suite facility, which is scheduled to open later this year.
Community planning for a new arena began approximately 10 years ago, around the 50th anniversary of the existing arena, which was built in 1960.
"It’s probably one of the older arenas in this area for sure," said Swanson. "It’s been maintained over the years and people have done what we can to take care of it, but at some point we need to have a new one. It’s costing more and more each year to maintain it."
The community chipped away at public awareness and a feasibility study, but the effort slowly fizzled over the years.
In 2019, council picked up the effort and conducted their own feasibility study, which aligned closely with the community’s and reaffirmed the need for a new arena.
One of the initial group’s biggest hurdles — finding suitable land — has been resolved by the municipality freeing up a plot at the end of South Railway Street in downtown Boissevain.
Although much of the project remains up in the air, Swanson said council wanted to let the community know the longstanding effort has found new legs.
She also wants the community to know the old arena, which has earned "a lot of nostalgia" during its 60 years in the community, will be used moving forward.
"We’re going to do something with the building," she said, adding it’ll be up to the community what, exactly, that "something" is.
The agricultural community might want it for fairs and 4-H days, she said — one of many user groups that may have an interest in the building.
As for the new arena, she said for such a "sports-orientated community … it’s time they had a place where we can showcase our recreation."
The arena also ties into a Recreation Redevelopment Plan the municipality had drafted by the outside HTFC Planning and Design firm in 2019. The plan also calls for a new swimming pool, campground expansion, outdoor rink, and more baseball and soccer pitches.
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