The curling season is just a few weeks away and when players return to the Huntsville Curling Club they will find a lot has been done to the facility.
The club, following many months of trying to decide whether to ‘list it’ and build a new facility or ‘love it’ and make improvements to the existing building, decided on the latter. That option was the most popular choice when the Town of Huntsville would not financially support the club’s plans to be part of a new sports complex.
This summer the club embarked on repairs to the foundation as well as doors, and an upgrade to outdated lighting. It’s all part of renovations that will cost the club approximately one-million dollars over the next few years.
The work completed so far is only 20 percent of the total cost and has pretty well depleted the cash the club had in the bank that was set aside for a move to the new facility. That money came mainly from profits made at last year’s provincial men’s bonspiel and the recent Rocks to Ridges golf tournament. Those funds have enabled the continuity of curling for the coming year, which will be celebrated with the opening of the season on October 20, 2019.
The renovations completed this summer are the first part of a three-pronged approach to upgrade and support a viable club for the Huntsville area for the next 30-50 years. The second phase will be making the club accessible, and the third will involve lounge improvements. Money for that work will have to come from more extensive fundraising.
“We are looking at raising some capital funds from our members as well as other opportunities in the community,” said Huntsville Curling Club president Beth Goodhew. “The businesses have been more than generous in their support for the curling club.”
Goodhew said the work this summer was the first time improvements had been made to the building in the last nine years. “If it breaks we’ll fix it,” she said was the board’s position as they looked at a new facility. “We were saving all of our capital dollars for a new building. We also wanted to maintain the continuity of curling for all of our leagues and age groups, and that’s why we pressed the town for a decision on their support last year.”
In the meantime, she said she’s hopeful that no emergency repairs are required. “We still have our fingers crossed that we won’t have any other emergency expenses over the winter. We have furnaces and heating units and dehumidifiers and other equipment that is 40-50 years old that hasn’t broken yet but when it fails it will be a catastrophic failure because there won’t be parts to fix them.”
The club has applied for another Ontario Trillium infrastructure grant as well as other grants with the help of the Town of Huntsville.
The second priority item that the club has no choice but to complete by 2025 is ensuring the club is accessible, and that is a real challenge given the present configuration of the building. The club would like to start work on that project next year but it will likely be the year after unless money is forthcoming sooner.
“We want an accessible club. That is where the majority of the million-dollar funds are required,” said Goodhew. “This will mean moving stairs to put in an elevator and open up the hallways which are far too small. We need to add accessible washrooms and an accessible entrance, really all kinds of challenges,” she said, adding that the club will be applying for accessibility grants, and seeking help from its members and the community in general.
Making the club accessible will also mean an opportunity to host more wheelchair curlers and tournaments. “We’ve done it with a few community members who are able to make it on their own to the ice surface and we’ve done it manually but we are looking forward to making the building accessible to all,” she added.
Regular curling starts on Friday, October 20, 2019. There will also be two free ‘Try Curling Now’ sessions open to all on Thursday, October 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, and on Saturday, October 19, 2019, from 1 to 3 pm. Learn to Curl and Youth programs will also begin soon.
The club has 243 members but close to a thousand people take part in various leagues and programs over the winter season. Programs include children’s leagues and social leagues. More details can be found at the club’s website at: huntsvillecurlingclub.ca.
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