The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor is taking a first step towards what might become a brand-new recreation complex, with an eye on helping residents of nearby communities enjoy more out of life.
Council will look for money to conduct a feasibility study for a new project that Mayor Barry Manuel says will address not only the needs of the town, but the surrounding region too.
"People need not think that we're going to go out and build a big facility. We're a ways away from that right now — if it happens at all," Manuel said inside the Joe Byrne arena in Grand Falls-Windsor.
"The idea is to have some professional help to go out…say whether it's the right move to look at a new facility in the future, or whether we don't do it at all."
There are already two ice surfaces, five softball fields, two soccer pitches and one lit regulation baseball field in Grand Falls-Windsor.
It's not too hard to get ice time, but Manuel said there is a bit of a crunch for gym space.
He said one gymnastic group was unable to get off of the ground a couple of years ago, because they couldn't find a place to call home.
"Everybody would, I think, love to see a new facility, provided that it's financially feasible," Manuel said.
One thing on his personal wish list is an indoor walking track, something that seniors could easily use in the winter months.
Grand Falls-Windsor residents Beverly Jones and Lynne Allan agree.
"You can't be guaranteed that on your route the sidewalks are going to be cleared of snow or ice," Allan said.
"Somewhere that you could go, and there's no fear of slipping, no fear of breaking anything — I think that would be really great for a lot of people, older and younger."
Allan and Jones said they would even be OK paying higher taxes to see the dream become a reality.
Manuel says the financial impact is going to be a "huge factor" in the town's decision-making. It costs money to build a new complex, he said, and it also costs money to operate the ones that are running right now.
A more regional model could be a solution, if something is found that can serve Grand Falls-Windsor and its neighbours.
"The whole region, really, would need to be taken into account when you look at the long term of any kind of recreational facility," Manuel said.
"There's all kinds of talk now around shared services [and] regionalization."
Not afraid of economy
Grand Falls-Windsor is dipping its toe into the waters of a big construction project, despite the rough seas of the provincial economy.
Manuel said he never says never.
"I don't think that we should be deterred at this point and say, 'B'y, you know, we really can't do anything.'"
"I don't like that word. I think it's a glass half-full approach with myself and with council."