A new Community Recreation Centre (CRC), like a phoenix, will rise from the ashes of a fire that destroyed Lemberg’s skating rink.
The Community Recreation Centre Committee is forging ahead with the project that, when completed, will feature a steel building measuring 85 feet by 230 feet containing a skating surface
and a lobby. The building has been ordered from Ontario-based Olympia Steel Buildings.
The project became necessary following the March 10 blaze that destroyed the skating rink, a 50-year-old wooden quonset- shaped building. Twenty firefighters from both Lemberg and Neudorf
fire departments battled the blaze following the 5:30 a.m. alarm.
They had the blaze under control by 8:30 a.m. and were able to save the lobby and curling portion of the complex although both sustained heavy smoke damage. While the skating portion
remained standing, the ceiling was charred and the structural damage was too extensive to repair.
Cause of the blaze was attributed to an electrical malfunction in the southwest corner of the building, according to RCMP investigators.
The curling rink will be operating this season while the new skating rink will be constructed throughout the winter.
The CRC project, according to building committee member Rick Pattison, will proceed in stages.
“Stage 1 is right now – we’re building a new corridor that will be connected to the curling rink and connected to the skating rink. We have a breezeway in between,” said Pattison , adding the corridor or breezeway will house the mechanical room for both.
Stage 2, explains Pattison, calls for the hiring of the contractor out of Ontario who will erect the building. Stage 3, the actual construction of the building could possibly start –
depending on the weather – next month. Stage 4 calls for the lobby to be built by local people. Stage 5 calls for the complex to have further cement work done.
While unable to provide an exact figure, Pattison says the project will come in under $1 million – possibly in the $800,000 to $900,000 range.
The Community Recreation Centre Committee has already collected a sizeable portion of the cost, both from insurance recovery and previous community fundraising projects.
“We have in our bank account about $420,000. We have the money to complete Stage 2 and 3 and then Stage 4 we’re going to do fundraising and maybe we’ll get a grant. “Stage 5 will ‘cement out’ the whole thing so it can be used for other (functions) – the whole surface would be cemented.”
Pattison says there was a strong impetus to rebuild almost immediately after the fire. While there were the ‘naysayers’ who argued there weren’t enough people in the town of 275 people to
justify the project, initial meetings held to access depth of support indicated the majority of community members support the rebuilding.
“Our meetings have been very well attended and it was unanimous we go ahead with it …With the public meetings we had, we had very good turnouts and it was unanimous: ‘do it’.”
Mayor John Kittler agrees the larger consensus was to go forward with the project. In an earlier interview, Kittler says the curling-skating facility was the heart of the winter-time community.
Curling has been a particularly popular component of Lemberg social life with the town producing not only provincial champions but international champions as well. Last winter Lemberg Curling Club celebrated its 100th anniversary.
“It means a lot. Some people didn’t think we should (rebuild) but it means a lot to the community. I’d say most of them were in favor of the new rink,” Kittler concludes.