Arena opens to fanfare

"Oe thing we’ve always been missing is suitable sized dressing rooms," said Mayor Kappes as he and John Slater opened the new addition.

There’s no ice in the arena yet but you wouldn’t have known it from all the excitement at the Boundary Expo Recreation Complex in Midway last Friday as an enthusiastic crowd came out for the grand opening of the new dressing rooms.

Eighty per cent of the funding for the project came from a $400,000 grant from the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development’s Community Recreation Program with another $100,000 from the village. The project included upgraded arena lighting and construction of approximately 268 square metres (2,880 square feet) of additional floor space on the east side of the arena that houses four new dressing rooms.

Arena users have already enjoyed a season of improved lighting as that work was done prior to the 2012-2013 schedule. The new lighting eliminates the shadowing effect and makes it easier for skaters to see the ice surface. The lighting upgrade is also expected to provide the village with a 40-per-cent reduction in lighting energy consumption.

Previously the arena had four small dressing rooms which made it difficult to accommodate more than two teams at a time, especially with co-ed players.

With the expansion, the village will be able to increase usage of the facility by hosting more hockey and figure skating events.

The combination of great ice and the new dressing facilities has already seen an increase in bookings for ice time. The Spokane Braves will be coming in on Sept. 28 and 29 to use the local arena for practice and the Grand Forks Border Bruins have scheduled three games this season in Midway: Sunday, Dec.1 Bruins vs. Kelowna Chiefs at 2 p.m.; Friday, Jan.10 Bruins vs. Princeton Posse at 7 p.m.; and Wednesday, Jan. 22 Bruins vs. Osoyoos Coyotes at 7 p.m.

The official opening was marked when Midway Mayor Randy Kappes and former MLA John Slater walked together through the double doors from the arena to the new addition.

“When I considered coming to Midway back in 1998 the first question I asked was, ‘Do they have an arena?’” Kappes told those assembled for the opening.

“Boy, do we ever! We have one heck of an arena with some of the best ice I’ve ever skated on – but the one thing we’ve always been missing is suitable sized dressing rooms to match our ice size. Through some hard work by past administrator Jim Madder and work by Sarah Winton, who was with Community Futures Boundary and the Boundary Economic Development Commission at the time.”

Kappes also acknowledged MLA John Slater and his executive assistant Diana Thomas for their role in lining up the grant.

“I played hockey up here over 30 years ago,” Slater recalled, “before they even had heat in the stands. I remember the first game we played in here— there were 2x4s on the benches and they used railway tie nails to hold up the uniforms on the shelves. That’s how long ago it was. This is a great efficient way of doing things. It’s going to be good for the community; it’s going to bring more people here. Having the facility will bring other teams. I think it’s really awesome–I congratulate Randy and his staff.”

Slater added, “It’s going to help the seniors as well, because with having an expanded facility like this they will have more room and ability to use the facility. It doesn’t matter whether if it is Midway, Greenwood or Rock Creek, this is going to be great for the whole area.”

Also on hand to help the community celebrate the day were Dave and Debby Klassen of Agrecomm Construction in Osoyoos, the construction company that began the project last year. “I appreciate the job and the opportunity to work with the people of Midway,” Dave said. “This one turned out nice.”

Arena staff will begin putting in the ice the week after the fall fair.

Rob Payne, president of Boundary Minor Hockey (BMH), said he is excited about the new facilities and the upcoming season.

“Hopefully a bunch of new kids will join this year.”

BMH was on site during and after the grand opening with their first day of registration for the new season.

Payne said that the BHM directors will meet on Sept. 19 and decisions will be made on teams based on registration. He said that teams must be declared to the league on Sept. 22 and schedules will be drawn up the following week.

New this year for BMH is a website that can be found at www.boundaryminorhockey.ca.

The Community Recreation Program is meant to encourage healthy living and community engagement for people of all ages and abilities by providing opportunities for recreational activity.