Growing up in Denmark, Rene Nielson didn’t play much hockey or other ice sports.
Now that he’s settled in the Langdon area, he sees what the winter activities mean to people here, and he’s trying to carve out a path for his growing family.
So when Nielson was awarded $2,500 for the charity of his choice through a contest set up by agricultural seed company BrettYoung at a recent trade show, it didn’t take him long to figure out where to send it — the Indus Recreation Centre.
On April 11, Matthew Wright from BrettYoung brought out the cheque and Nielson brought his wife Christine, who has spent her entire life in the Indus area, and 8-month-old daughter Julia for the presentation before the centre’s board meeting.
With a toddler already walking with the help of her parents, Nielson can envision a day where his family will make use of the Indus facility, which has an ambitious expansion plan in the works.
“I have a pair of skates but that’s about it,” Nielson said. “I’ve always been involved in my local community growing up. We played volleyball and soccer. We were always busy with sports. It’s important to keep the young folks busy and keep them out of trouble.
“Christine has played ringette, hockey and lacrosse here her whole life. We’re just starting out a family. I figured eventually someone else will be using these facilities. I thought I would keep it somewhat local.”
The Indus Recreation Centre board is looking to raise $1.7- to $2-million to start off a two-arena sheet expansion project, so a relatively small personal donation isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things, but the board members who got to meet Nielsen are quite appreciative that he thought of them.
“Every little bit counts and every dollar we secure is gratefully received and faithfully applied,” said Dave Place, an Indus Recreation Centre board member.
“Fundraising is always the difficult challenge. It’s tied to the ebbs and flows with the economy. The opportunities rise when the economy is good and opportunities fall off when the economy is going sideways.
“It’s all about fundraising and having those funds so we can apply for matching grants. What we’ve learned is you have to have that base in your hip pocket to apply for the funding you need just for that base.”
The Bill Herron Arena opened in 1994 and it getting close to the end of its life cycle and needs a replacement. The board would like eventually create two new sheets of ice and convert the existing arena into a dryland training pad for sports such as lacrosse, which is what kids are playing right now at the centre.
During the hockey season, the arena is in high demand, and it’s over capacity just from minor hockey.
Around 30 playoff games needed to be moved to the likes of Gleichen or Black Diamond because the Bill Herron Arena was booked up solid.
Based on some studies, the board feels a second ice surface would be at capacity even when the two sheets would be operational.
“That would ease a ton of pressure,” Place said. “If could put together 1.7 to 2, that would give us a basic structure with a fabric building and an artificial slab.
“We already have boards for the arena already. We secured those from the Olympic Oval. We’re piecing this thing together. Two million would get us the basic functional fabric structure building.”
The expansion plan would add ice surfaces to the south side of the existing arena, and it would mean moving the ball diamond to the northeast side of the lot.
Overall, the board is looking at about a $9-million long-term investment, and it will take several years and plenty of construction to get it all done.
“It’s all about planning ahead,” Place said. “The area is going to keep growing. We have to recognize that buildings wear out.
“You have a lot of moving parts when you are making ice. The thing is to have a long-term vision and then have a short-term vision we can sustain and grow with an end-game in mind.”