Dozens of local residents joined politicians and funding partners last Saturday (Oct. 4) to officially open Burns Lake’s newest recreation facility.
Completed earlier this spring and in operation since May 31, the Lakeside Multiplex features a squash/racket ball court, climbing wall, fitness center, two multi-purpose rooms with views of the arena, an office, and various other amenities. The $3-million facility was constructed with grant funding from a host of agencies and government organizations, with the largest contribution ($2.4 million) coming from the Province of BC.
In opening the multiplex, Mayor Luke Strimbold pointed out that it’s one of the largest investments in recreation made by the municipality in several years. He paid tribute to the facility’s funding partners and several village staff members for making the community’s dream a reality.
“Two staff who worked night and day, spent a lot of time here at the multiplex making sure it was ready for a grand opening, and the best facility it could be, were Sheryl Worthing and Rick Martin. If you drove by here at nine or 10 o’clock at night, probably both their vehicles would have been here,” he noted, adding that Recreation Director Dooseon Jung also played an integral role in planning Saturday’s event.
John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes and provincial minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, was also on hand for the opening. Rustad, who helped secure provincial funding for the multiplex and several other key projects in wake of the deadly 2012 explosion and fire at Babine Forest Products’ sawmill, said the facility will play an important role in the community for years to come.
“I know what this will mean for the community, and I know what this will mean for the whole region,” the MLA and cabinet minister said. “It will be an asset for generations to come. Congratulations, and we’re glad the province was able to play a small part in making this happen.”
The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako also supported the project. Bill Miller, regional district chairman and director for Electoral Area B (Burns Lake Rural), suggested that investments in recreation facilities are important to community health and well-being.
“Recreational is as much an integral part of the infrastructure of our communities as are roads, water, sewer, all those things,” he stressed. “It’s as important because it brings us together as a community, but it also helps us attract those people to our community – doctors, lawyers, educators – who we need here to make our community strong and vibrant.”
Representatives from several other funding partners were also on hand to celebrate the multiplex’s opening.
Wendy Benyk, director for the Northern Development Initiative Trust, presented Mayor Strimbold with a plaque commemorating that organization’s contribution of $60,000 to the multiplex. Shelley Wall, representing the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society (which committed $40,000 to the project), came to the grand opening with a cheque for $16,000, while Gwen Douglas of the Western Financial Group was on hand to present $5,000 from the Western Communities Foundation.
Not to be outdone, representatives of Babine Forest Products Ltd. and Decker Lake Forest Products came through with a $10,000 contribution.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured provincial and civic leaders as well as several children chosen from the audience, those present were treated to cake and other snacks. Children also had the opportunity to use the facility’s climbing wall – some of them for the first time.
The Lakeside Multiplex was built by Venture Pacific Construction Management Ltd. The facility was scheduled for completion by the end of January 2014, but several factors prevented the contractor from meeting that deadline.