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Aquatic and curling projects more than meets the eye

Dear editor: Olympic gold for Canada’s women and men’s curling! Hockey is Canada’s sport, soccer has a huge following, but it won’t be long before kids and adults who don’t play hockey or soccer are envisioning themselves as representing Canada and g

Dear editor:

Olympic gold for Canada’s women and men’s curling!

Hockey is Canada’s sport, soccer has a huge following, but it won’t be long before kids and adults who don’t play hockey or soccer are envisioning themselves as representing Canada and going for curling gold at the next Olympics!

Fact is, most kids and adults will never play in the NHL or soccer’s equivalent or curl at an Olympics…but they can dream and strive towards that goal. Kids get involved in sport for a variety of reasons; they are naturally athletic, their older sibling did it so they do it, parents put them in sport to give it a try, their friends are playing so they want to be with their friends, or maybe they see it on the TV and they want to be like that person in that sport.

I don’t curl, but given the recent Olympics, I’d like to give it a try, maybe even play once a week for fun. I would be even more inclined to give it a try if curling was located where all the other sports take place in Cochrane, the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC). Every day I see children and adults come to SLSFSC and as a result of seeing all of the other sports and activities, they want to give them a try.

Fast forward two years and imagine people coming to SLSFSC for soccer, hockey, figure skating, the Kid Zone Bouncers, archery, public skating, Sticks ‘n Pucks, Fitness and gymnastics, and they walk past the new curling rink…better yet, they see other kids curling on the three new junior ice sheets and laughing and having fun.

On any given week, approximately 10,000-15,000 people visit SLSFSC to partake in hockey, soccer, lacrosse, programs, fitness, physio, personal training, classes, gymnastics, socialize etc. Right now only curlers go to the existing curling facility, which has limited exposure. With the addition of the new aquatics facility, the number of people coming to the facility will double. If that many people come to SLSFSC and walk past the curling rink, it would dramatically increase participation rates.

At the current location, when the curling ice isn’t in (April through September), the curling pad sits empty and doesn’t generate revenue. With the curling rink located at SLSFSC, that space could be converted and programmed for those six months with any of the following activities; Kid’s Zone, turf for soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football, ice surface for public skating, figure skating, power skating, dry-land training space, trade shows, weddings, etc. The curling venue will not only cover its costs, it will generate revenues and meet a growing need in the community for large multi-programmable, year-round space.

As the general manager of the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, I am excited about the future opportunities that the aquatic and curling projects would bring. I hope that the necessary funding comes together so that we can meet the anticipated growth of Cochrane and Rocky View County that is expected over the next 10 – 15 years.

Robin Mitchell, general manager, Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre




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