Big turnout Feb. 8 as ribbon cutting marks completion of ‘63-year dream’
ATWOOD – While the project technically started in 2014, Atwood Lions Club members will tell you that their outdoor rink was actually 63 years in the making.
The service organization officially unveiled the new $200,000 steel roof spanning its outdoor rink during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a sunny but chilly Saturday morning, Feb. 8. Hundreds of people turned out to mark the occasion, including Lions, local dignitaries, firefighters, contributors to the project, and scores of families that will utilize the facility for decades to come.
“The sun is with us this morning, because the sun always shines on the Atwood Lions,” said North Perth Mayor and Atwood Lions Club member Todd Kasenberg during opening remarks. “This committee, that has brought this to realization, has succeeded in a 63-year dream to make this arena happen. One of the original objects of the Atwood Lions Club was to build an arena in Atwood. To my brother Lions, to the wonderful brothers who have passed on and whose footsteps we have walked in, I say mission accomplished.”
The Atwood outdoor rink project was initiated in 2014 with the pouring of the concrete pad and installation of the boards and glass. The Olympia building quickly followed in 2015 and provided a place to both store equipment and for everyone to lace up their skates. Phase three was the construction of the steel roof structure overtop the rink, which commenced in November 2019 and wrapped up before the turn of the calendar to 2020.
“This year has been an example of it prolonging the ice, keeping the sun off of it, with less maintenance,” said Lion and rink committee member Tim Buchanan of the addition of the roof. “I’m really excited to see going forward the use this facility will get in the town of Atwood. It’s nice to be envied by some of the other communities in the area.”
The addition of the rood was made possible by the financial contributions of the Lions, members of the community and a $50,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the Government of Ontario. The OTF awarded $108 million to 629 projects last year.
“This is almost the ice size of the old Monkton Arena was, so you’ve done a fantastic job,” commented Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece. “And the roof just finishes it off. On behalf of the government, I want to congratulate the Atwood Lions Club and all of those who took part in building this wonderful facility.”
“We were really pleased to see what a difference it can make for a community,” added OTF volunteer Rena Spevack-Orr on the grant awarded to the Atwood rink project. “Because that is what we focus on – impact on communities and what could happen to improve the lifestyles of the people.”
The official opening also featured a ceremonial puck drop, with Atwood Lion Club member and original 1957 charter president Derek Nind receiving the honour. Skating, refreshments and fellowship at the new facility closed out the proceedings.
“We can only do what the community helps us do,” concluded Atwood Lions Club president Russ Danbrook. “The support that we get for the events that we are able to run, the financial support the community gives us is why this is here. While it’s our Lions name on it, this is a testament to the support that we get from the community, and we appreciate that big time. We’re just proud to be able to share this with everybody.”