In what has proven to be a most challenging year, there was a bright spot recently for the Stettler Curling Club.
Members recently learned the Club would be receiving a provincial grant called the Community Facility Enhancement Grant.
“We applied for it over a year ago,” said Maureen Mailer, a member of the Club’s board. “Then COVID hit, and money was shifted and the criteria was shifted – and we re-applied and we were very surprised and fortunate that we received it.”
The recipient was originally supposed to be announced in March of next year.
“It was for our ice plant. And there was a lot of work done amongst the curling community in town here – talking to our MLA, talking to our MP – and saying what our situation was,” said Board Member Peggy Hearonemus, adding that that they had been exploring other grant opportunities at the time as well – prior to learning that they would be receiving the Community Facility Enhancement Grant.
“That very day that we were working on (another grant), we got the letter that we were the successful recipients of the $56,000 grant that we had thought we wouldn’t find out about until March!”
Talk about good news in what has been a year of restrictions, cancellations and adjustments.
Mailer explained that the Community Facility Enhancement Grant is a matching grant.
“When we applied for it, we also had to attach our bank statements to say that we had that much money available to be able to match it,” she said. “As a result, what we are proceeding with is finalizing the ice plant upgrade, so it’s the chiller and condenser, the electrical work and the control panel.
“While we are at it, we are also going to switch from ammonia to a safer cooling agent called Freon. That way, it’s safer for everyone. Our plan is to get it done this winter, and as a result, we aren’t opening the rink,” she explained.
Earlier this fall, members were mulling a possible January launch of the curling season.
But the impact of COVID affected that decision, what with the continual changes in restrictions as well that are affecting public events and activities in particular.
There were also concerns among some members that they might get something going only to later have to postpone or cancel the season.
“With not opening this year we will get all of the repairs done and be ready to go in the fall of 2021,” said Mailer, adding that hail damage from the summer of 2019 will also be repaired in the spring. “It’s all going to look good when it gets done.”
They are also looking at having carpet around the perimeter of the ice surface repaired if they are successful with another grant called the New Horizons for Seniors grant – which is currently under review.
“A lot of the communities around us have also reached out and said, ‘Hey, if you want to curl, you can come out and curl at our place. So lots of people are going to Castor, Forestburg and Erskine.
“Huge applause to them all – Erskine, who didn’t have an afternoon league, opened up their rink so our afternoon group – if they so choose – could go out there,” said Hearonemus.
“A lot of them have also gone to Castor and Forestburg as well. To me, it all just helps to bring communities together again,” she added.
In the meantime, they are awaiting the start of the facility upgrades that can now move forward thanks to the grant.
The Stettler Curling Club started up in 1906. Normally, a season begins in November and runs through to the end of March.
In the meantime, both women have long been passionate about the sport.
And for those who might be considering giving it a try once things are up and running again, Mailer said just come out and give it a shot. You very well could end up loving it as well.
“Just come out and try – you don’t know until you give it a try.”
For more information, call the Stettler Curling Club at 403-742-3111 or visit stettlercurlingclub.ca.