A $2.4 million funding boost for the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena expansion project is certainly welcome news for Burns Lake.
The project will see the arena and the curling rink morph into a multi sport recreation facility that will include a squash court, a children’s indoor play area and a climbing wall.
This investment will be a big boost for Burns Lake, once completed it will provide locals with a great outlet for recreational entertainment. Not all local residents play hockey or skate, so it will be nice to have some indoor recreation options that are available year round and are off the ice.
The facility will also help attract people, including professionals like doctors, to live in the local area.
One of the province’s mandates for economic recovery in Burns Lake is to create projects that will boost local employment and while the construction phase for this project, which is set to begin this year, will certainly create some employment, the question of how much local employment this project will generate remains to be seen.
Although the Village of Burns Lake plan to emphasize in the tender that local contractors be hired during the construction process, ultimately the decision to hire locally will be left to the discretion of those awarded the contract.
Most often, companies have their own labour crews and contractors, leaving locals to watch the construction from the sidelines. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen in this instance, because as nice as it is to have this funding announced for the facility, locals still need a source of employment, especially after the loss of the Babine Forest Products sawmill.
I have heard a few comments from local residents that the province should be putting the $2.4 million towards the Lakes District Hospital replacement project instead. I agree that it does sound a little unusual for the province to be announcing funding for the multi sport recreation facility while the question of a new hospital still hangs in the air.
What you have to consider though, is that this is an initiative applied for by the Village of Burns Lake late last year. The village applied for this grant from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Recreation after council decided to proceed with the arena expansion project. You also have to consider that this grant comes from a separate pot of funding than the Lakes District Hospital replacement project would. Getting this funding, will not negatively impact on getting a new hospital.
Also when MLA John Rustad was in town to make the funding announcement for the multi sport recreation facility, he also announced that he will be arriving in Burns Lake again tomorrow for another announcement.
He was tight lipped on what this will be, so we will just have to sit tight until then.