Upgrades to ‘hub’ of Wawanesa complete

The recreation centre in Wawanesa is now equipped with an improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning system as well as two new ice plants, ensuring community events can carry on.

From curling and hockey in the winter to special events in the summer, Dustin Brown said the facility is always busy.

“The rink is the hub of the community,” said Brown, recreation manager at the Wawanesa and District Recreation Centre. “It gives everyone something to do to stay active and stay involved with the community.”

On Thursday morning, Liberal MP Dan Vandal and provincial Municipal Relations Minister Andrew Smith announced that $832,169 has gone toward upgrading the centre.

The project, which is now complete, has reduced the chilling time of the hockey and curling rinks by 86 per cent, and has lowered the facility’s energy consumption by an estimated 33 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 3.9 tonnes annually. Ice plants maintain temperatures in rinks to keep ice frozen by pumping chemicals around a series of pipes set in concrete under the ice.

The previous ice plant ran on refrigerants that are no longer produced in Canada, said Brett McGregor, the Souris River Recreation Commission’s director. The government funding allowed the rink to switch to ammonia, which is more energy-efficient and would extend the lifespan of the facility.

“It’s exciting,” McGregor said. “It will … benefit the environment and our community for years to come.”

Echoing Brown’s words, Vandal, the federal minister responsible for PrairiesCan, said recreation centres are at the heart of small towns across Canada.

“Our government is proud to have contributed to the retrofit of this long-standing centre in Oakland-Wawanesa, providing residents with more options to stay fit and connect with their community, while reducing its electricity costs,” he said.

The funding came through the federal government’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program, which was created to support Canada’s climate plan through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the increase of energy efficiency and a focus on higher resilience to climate change. The federal government is providing $1.5 billion over five years toward green and accessible retrofits, repairs or upgrades to facilities across Canada.

Manitoba’s Building Sustainable Communities Program, which provided $300,000 for the Wawanesa project, supports non-profits and local governments to invest in their priorities, Smith said.

“Manitoba recognizes the importance of working with municipalities and community-based organizations to help communities across the province.”

The Rural Municipality of Oakland-Wawanesa pitched in $325,000 toward the rink project. The Sun was unable to reach head of council Dave Kreklewich for comment.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun