In response to recent letters to the editor in local newspapers, the board of directors for the Cochrane Curling Club wants the community to know that it fully supports the move to a new facility at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.
Many years of planning have gone into this decision including looking at all the alternatives to ensure that we made the right decision not only for the Curling Club and its members today, but for all the present and future young curlers. We have met with curling club executives and their icemakers that have recently opened new curling rinks or are expanding into larger facilities. We have had numerous meetings with the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre’s board of directors, their general manager and icemakers, councillors and administrative staff from the Town of Cochrane and Rocky View County. We have had the proposed drawings of the new facility posted at the Curling Club for all of our members to review for several months now and have had a very positive feedback from the majority of the membership. We are all looking forward to the opening day of the new facility.
The current facility is nearly 30 years old and would never be able to handle the growth in Cochrane. The plant needs to be replaced, the roof leaks, the utility costs are exorbitant due to the condition of the facility, the kitchen is grossly inadequate and needs to be relocated and the lockers rooms/bathrooms need to be relocated and/or upgraded. The option to upgrade the existing facility was explored and it did not make sense to waste taxpayer dollars on a facility that cannot grow with the town’s population. The building needs extensive upgrades to function properly and would continue to require funding put into it as the facility continues to age.
One inaccurate statement presented in a letter to the editor was that the curling club was only running at two-thirds capacity. On the contrary, we presently have over 200 evening league players curling Monday to Friday, we currently have an average of 100 high school students and bantam teams in the junior program who come and play and/or practise at the club Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after school, and many more.
We rent the facility on weekends for bonspiels and we have only five Saturdays not booked this season. We currently have two additional schools that want to enroll its students in the school program and we cannot find ice time to accommodate them this year, but we are confident we will be able to do that at the new facility. Currently, vacant sheets of ice are used by players wanting to practise and by teams playing make up games.
With only four sheets of ice, we are not able to host larger events that require a minimum six sheet rink. When we move to the new facility we will be able to bid on these prestigious events bringing curlers and their families to Cochrane, providing economic value, as they will stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. The planned six sheets of ice plus the three short sheets will allow many other sporting and non-sporting events to take place in the venue, generating revenue to the Spray Lake Sports Centre year round.
The lounge area has been modified, but it should be noted this portion of the curling club will be servicing the entire Spray Lake Sports Centre facility and needs to be large enough to accommodate banquets and other events that will be taking place at the facility during the course of the year.
The new curling facility will not cost the Cochrane taxpayers $10 million. The $10 million is the current estimated cost of the curling club portion of the complete aquatic/curling club project. This cost includes opening up and hooking into an existing facility. The town’s current commitment to the curling club portion is $1.5 million with the rest being funded through contributions from Rocky View County, provincial and federal grants, corporate donations and funds raised through private fundraising.
We need to become part of the Spray Lake Sports Centre in order to allow the club to grow and introduce the sport to people who frequent that facility for other reasons. As evidenced from the success of our Sunday fun nights, people who have not tried this sport do enjoy it once they have experienced it. Having a comprehensive sports facility can only increase the livability of the town of Cochrane.
Cochrane Curling Club board of directors