Elements of a potential expansion of the Mariners Centre are exciting for some, disappointing for others.
The scope of Phase 1 of the recreation infrastructure project will include an aquatic centre and indoor/outdoor track and fieldhouse. Needs related to curling and other facilities will be addressed in consideration of future phases.
Yarmouth Curling Club past-president Rick Allwright was hoping a curling club would be part of the Mariners Centre plans. It had been mentioned before in discussions about additions to the complex and would have been good news for the aging Yarmouth curling facility.
“We’ll be fine in the short term where we are,” Allwright said.
“We have made some upgrades that we were in dire need of and these will keep us operating for some time. How much time we have, we simply don't know as it's a matter of time until something breaks mechanically.”
The reality, he said, is that, at some point, the club will need to make a move in order for the sport of curling to survive and grow in Yarmouth.
Allwright said he has been involved with the entire process of a potential expansion of the Mariners Centre since the start and it’s “slightly disheartening that the people who have done the work to get this project started get pushed to the side.
“It's also worrying that the steering committee is ignoring the needs assessment and even considering a fieldhouse, as it was identified as there not being 'sufficient evidence that a fieldhouse would be well used or financially sustainable in the Yarmouth area' (page 19 of the needs assessment).”
Allwright said club members are also concerned by going down the route of the fieldhouse, provincial funding and even federal funding could be jeopardized because the need hasn’t been established.
Jonathan Kini, president of the Yarmouth Clippers Soccer Club, said he’s hopeful the fieldhouse will be built. In the past, he attended meetings held by consultants.
“At that time I wasn’t part of the board but I brought up the idea of a fieldhouse. It was shot down pretty quickly.”
Kini said his board has discussed a fieldhouse in the past and what it could do not only for the club, but for soccer in our region. This region is the only area that doesn’t have an indoor facility for soccer, he said.
Along with the 400 members belonging to the local soccer club, he said there would likely be participation from as far as Barrington and Digby.
He’s had informal talks with a local running club and they’re supportive of it. He also can see minor baseball teams supporting it. Options for use include seniors who want to walk, lawn bowling, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee and golf.
Uses of the HB Studios Sports Centre in Bridgewater include yoga, football, judo, rugby, RC plan & drone flying, fly-fishing classes, birthday parties, laser tag and bubble ball races.
Melanie Mooney, chairwoman of the Yarmouth YMCA board, said the YMCA is pleased and excited the request for a decision on a major recreation infrastructure project is being brought forward.
“We fully anticipate that the YMCA will be a part of the Mariners Centre expansion,” she said.
She said members of the board of directors and CEO recently met with representatives from the Town of Yarmouth, Municipality of Yarmouth and Municipality of Argyle, which generated positive discussions.
“We feel there is strong support for the YMCA.”
Mooney added the YMCA looks forward to being engaged in the critical review of the Mariners Centre expansion and the steps that will follow.
“We can offer years of experience running successful aquatics and health and wellness programs.”
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