Canada’s newest outdoor skating rink was officially opened Tuesday

Canada’s newest outdoor rink opens in Wasa

The Wasa and District Lions' Pete Vereshagen Memorial Rink has been a labour of love for the Wasa Lions and the whole community.

No, people of Canada, the great outdoor skating rink is not a thing of the past.

Up in Wasa, B.C., the newest outdoor rink in the nation was officially opened at a special ceremony Tuesday morning, Dec. 16, at the Wasa Lions Grounds behind the community hall.

The Wasa and District Lions’ Pete Vereshagen Memorial Rink has been a labour of love for the Wasa Lions and indeed the whole community. It has been in the works for years, as Jane Walter, RDEK Area E Director and Wasa Lions member explained, after the official puck-drop.

Over a period of time the Wasa Lions heard how much the community needed a skating rink, Walter said. The Lions finally went to the RDEK, “putting pressure on (the late Norm Walter, former Area E director).

“Our first application got turned down,” Jane Walter said. “But the second application got approved, and we got permission to build the skating rink.”

Funding came from the B.C. Provincial Government’s Community Recreation program. Columbia Basin Trust also came through with funding through its Community Development Fund. The Wasa and District Lions Club actively fundraised for the project, and the Regional District of East Kootenay — represented by Chris Bosman —  functioned as project administrator and liaison.

The facility includes proper boards with space for advertising, overhead lights for night skating, and an adjacent structure for changing into and out of skates, complete with a fire pit.

“None of this would have happened without the volunteers,” Walter said. They’ve been amazing, putting in more than 4,000 hours of volunteer time, just on the boards.” Volunteer time included the use of heavy equipment to get the ground prepared, and it was also pointed out that the many volunteers included people from the community of all ages — from age six through seniors.

“Wasa came out in full,” Walter said. “It’s a well-deserved, beautiful rink.”

Bosman explained that the concrete pad itself was poured by Western Recreation Ltd out of Red Deer, who specialize in skating and curling rink surfaces.

The ceremonial puck-drop was taken by Wasa Lions Past-President Marilyn Bowen and CBT representative Rick Allen.

“What they’ve created here is something that will last a long time and create beautiful memories,” Allen said. “Columbia Basin Trust is really happy to be involved wherever we can, but especially with collaborative projects like this.”

Bowen thanked all the sponsors and volunteers. “It’s been a blast,” she said. “I can’t tell you how much fund we had building this thing.”

In other Wasa news, the Wasa and District Lions are holding the community’s inaugural Winter Festival on Dec. 31, 2014. The family-friendly event features fun and games, bannock, hot chocolate and a host of activities to make for an enjoyable final afternoon of the year. Fireworks on the lake are scheduled for 8 p.m. It is intended the festival become and annual event.

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