Residents encouraged to show support of Windsor arena project

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on June 28, 2014

Greg Kelley, chairperson of the steering committee for the new area, facilitated a public forum hosted to provide locals with a project update.

Ashley Thompson

Locals looking to have a state-of-the-art Birthplace Arena built in Windsor are turning to the community for support.

About 60 people attended a public forum on the topic that was recently hosted in the Fountain Performing Arts Centre at King’s-Edgehill School.

Preliminary designs suggest the $14-million facility will include an Olympic-sized rink iced year-round, 750 seats, a warm room, nine dressing rooms, a community walking track, social hubs featuring hockey heritage artifacts and an impressive training facility.

Talbot Sweetapple, an award-winning architect living in Centre Burlington and a local hockey dad, narrated a slideshow presentation shown at the public form.

“Building a project like this comes only once in a generation. Therefore, we would like to aim high as this will be a representation of our place, people and culture,” said Sweetapple, in the presentation explaining the intent behind the design elements he has planned for the proposed facility.

The arena, plotted out for a parcel of land bordering the King’s-Edgehill School property that overlooks Long Pond, would include such design elements as a covered porch and atrium filled with natural light.

“This atrium will have a hockey shrine ethos,” explained Sweetapple.

Sweetapple sees the upper level of the “global draw” featuring a Long Pond viewing room overlooking the Cradle of Hockey, and a walking track showcasing the pastoral views surrounding the historic area at the root of Windsor’s claim to fame as the Birthplace of Hockey.

“It is this connection to place that will make it a meaningful addition to our region,” he said.

The plan is to raise one third of the funding for the project at the local level, and ask the provincial and federal government to each cover one third of the cost as well.

Joe Seagram, headmaster at KES, said the goal is to construct a highly efficient arena that will bring in enough revenue to take care of the operational costs.

“This is going to be something that will knock your socks off when you see it,” said Seagram.

Building, finance, fundraising and communications committees have been formed to manage the project.

If the funding is secured, and the arena is built, the community-owned facility will be operated by a not-for-profit group similar to the Newport and District Rink Commission.

Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley, a member of the new arena steering committee, said money for site development has been included in the projected cost of the project in anticipation of roadwork that may be required if the arena is built.

“I think we all recognize that College Road would need upgrading,” he said.

Beazley stressed that community backing is key at this stage in the game.

Referring to the All Hands On Deck movement in the Town of Yarmouth that saw hundreds of volunteers doing what they could to prepare their community for the day a ferry would once again be travelling from Yarmouth to Maine, Beazley urged everyone interested in the arena project to find a way to show their support.

“We’ve got to have all sticks on the ice,” he said.