BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The Blackfalds Dual Ice Development Society (DIDS) is working hard to share their message and gain support to enclose an outdoor skating rink for future community use.
According to DIDS Vice President Curtis Horvath, a number of community groups have been rallying for a second enclosed ice space for a number of years, but the group officially formed in fall 2016 to make their dream a reality.
DIDS is kicking off a fundraising campaign this weekend in order to let the community know they are ready to get moving on this project. Join them at Resolve Bar and Grill on Jan. 21st at 7 p.m. for a ‘Battle of Alberta’ fundraiser. Tickets are $10 with all proceeds going to DIDS.
Blackfalds Town Council has added the item to their 2021 budget with a tentative allocation of $12 million. Until that time, DIDS hopes to raise $1,000,000 through grant funding and community campaigning, as this will help the Town in turn secure provincial and potentially federal funding.
“We’re developing our society to show the Town of Blackfalds we’re serious. There are people here willing to put in the time and really promote this group and our cause,” Horvath said.
“It’s not that the Town of Blackfalds didn’t want to do this project already. The fact is that the Town needed to see some other steps taken by citizens before they are able to follow due process in bringing this project forward, similar to how the Field House in the Abbey Centre came to be.”
Citizens rallied together to create the Blackfalds Field House Society and generate interest in the project. Horvath said this is exactly what DIDS is doing so that the item can be taken forward in an official manner, with the Town’s support behind them.
“We’ve taken our information to the Town council and we’ve got this item included in the long-term capital budgets for 2021,” he said, adding he knows there have been various conversations in council and in the community regarding the enclosure of the ice rink.
“The Town has been thinking about this for quite some time. When they built the outdoor rink beside the Multi-Plex, they upgraded plans within the existing facility to include plumbing into the outdoor cement slab, running through the ice plant. That saves a significant amount of funds that the Town doesn’t have to pay now. We simply need the structure.”
Horvath and the rest of DIDS are looking forward to building community support behind this project in the coming years.
Gaining momentum on a project of this calibre is necessary to secure federal and provincial funding, so DIDS is setting their sights on building community support to push the project forward.
“We’re really trying to get out and show everyone that we are a committed Society. We are following process and are set up to bring this Society forward,” Horvath said.
“In the next couple of years, we’re looking forward to seeing lots of fundraising in our community to bring this to life. We want to secure our own funding, so that we can encourage the various levels of government to support this project through their funding.”
Horvath said the item was included in the Town’s five-year and ten-year Capital Plan budgets, as well as a number of other projects that will help to lead up to the development of the secondary enclosed ice surface.
Those lead-up projects include the construction of a permanent outdoor rink facility on the east end of town in anticipation of losing the current space by the Multi-Plex, as well as an enclosed roof for the existing outdoor rink in coming years.
That roof will provide energy cost savings for the current rink and will help protect what will become the new, fully enclosed twin arena.
The second enclosed arena space is not only for local hockey, ringette and figure skating clubs, but also for off-ice sports such as indoor soccer or lacrosse.
Although the plans for the second arena space are not drawn up yet, the Town has allocated funding in 2019 to set up an engineering concept plan to ensure the best use of dollars through the project’s construction.
As the plans come into view, DIDS will focus on seeking corporate sponsorship to help secure their contribution of $1,000,000 to the overall arena budget.
Horvath said the Society hopes to see dressing rooms, reasonable seating and viewing capacity and community-use spaces such as boardrooms or offices to encourage other groups to make use of the space.
The Dual Ice Development Society is seeking volunteers to help with their pancake breakfast and an information booth as part of Winterfest next month.
To get involved as a volunteer, Horvath said the best way to connect is through the group’s facebook page, Dual Ice Development Society, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.