Wellesley Recreation Complex gets $150,000 boost from province for fitness and other equipment - Grant Haven
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Wellesley Recreation Complex gets $150,000 boost from province for fitness and other equipment

Wellesley Recreation Complex gets $150,000 boost from province for fitness and other equipment

By Galen Simmons

Wellesley and area residents will soon have access to new fitness and other equipment at the not-yet-fully open Bill Gies Recreation Centre thanks to a nearly $150,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant announced last week.

Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Neil Lumsden joined Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris, Wellesley Township Mayor Joe Nowak and other township staff at the still-under-construction recreation centre Jan. 25 to announce the funding for gym equipment expected to arrive at the centre next week, as well as sports equipment, tables and chairs for the entire facility.

“Talk about making an impact in the community. Talk about something that resonates and will be here for a long time. Talk about things that will touch everyone in the community of all shapes and ages and sizes, and be there for multiple reasons,” Lumsden said of the OTF funding. “ … The grant is $150,000 … to purchase essential equipment in this fantastic facility, equipment I understand is being delivered next week. 

“I was hoping to try some of it out today, but there won’t be any of that.”

Provincial funding received through the OTF’s capital grant stream is aimed at improving the infrastructure Ontarians need to thrive. Whether it’s purchasing equipment, building a new space or completing renovations, retrofits or repairs, OTF capital grants support projects that are having a positive effect on communities across the province, including within the Waterloo Region.

“One of the things that really drew me to this facility was the fact we’re going to have so many different opportunities for groups to come and collaborate under one roof,” Harris said. 

“The Wellesley Community Health Centre moving here is fantastic. We’re going to have Community Care Concepts providing some seniors programming out of here as well. There’s going to be some programming done for youth in the community. Of course, the beloved Applejacks have a new place to call home. And one of the big things I think is great for this community as well is the fitness centre that will be part of this amazing building.”

Wellesley’s Bill Gies Recreation Centre came about after township council decided to build a new recreation facility with the help of a $16.1-million provincial grant and community fundraising instead of completing a laundry list of expensive structural repairs and upgrades at the aging Wellesley Arena.

The new recreation centre, which sits on a 40-acre property, includes an NHL sized ice rink, a walking track, a fitness gym, a gymnasium/community centre, a youth centre, a skateboard park, a playground, soccer fields, and outdoor walking trails. Currently, the rink and walking track are the only pieces of the centre open to the public. The rest of the building is expected to open over the next few months, and the township is planning on hosting a grand-opening ceremony on June 22.

“I’ve used the word grateful, but that seems a little bit light,” Nowak said. “I think the word ecstatic may be more important when describing my feelings. From the onset, our priority was to ensure the Bill Gies Recreation Centre would provide recreational opportunities for everyone. This grant will go a long way in helping us meet that goal. The trillium grant will be used to purchase fitness gym equipment, tables and chairs for the entire facility, and gym equipment for future programming including but not limited to basketball, volleyball and pickleball.

“The opportunities for our residents to pursue an active lifestyle are endless. The prospect for enhanced social interaction is especially important in a small, rural community. With this financial assistance from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, we become a more complete community.”

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