Chapple receives funding to cover up outdoor rink

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

The Township of Chapple will have a brand-new sheltered space to play and work in following the awarding of funding from the Ontario Government.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford made a stop in the small municipality on Friday, October 14, 2022, to announce the funding, where he revealed that $360,000 would be made available to Chapple through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC). The money will go towards providing a rooftop cover for the municipality’s new concrete ice surface, which was also completed using government funding and is currently in the process of having side boards built and installed.

While Chapple has long had an area to put in ice outdoors, the previous space had a gravel base, and without a cover the late winter sun would cause one side of the ice surface to quickly melt. The new concrete poured pad and the roof that will be built means that the ice surface will stay in better shape for much longer in the winter season.

Rickford met with Chapple reeve Rilla Race and township employees working to get the project done and all agreed that the addition of a roof would not only make it much easier to play hockey in the winter, but the covering would also open up avenues for the site to be used for other opportunities as well.

“It’s another way for the community to use it for more things,” Rickford noted.

“In the summer people can have craft sales, yard sales, weddings, farmers markets, play volleyball,” Race agreed.

“There’s no end.”

Matt Morrison, left, Chapple reeve Rilla Race, Rick Godbout, Jason Strom and Charlie Loveday chat with Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford during his stop in the township to announce additional funding of $360,000 to help build a rooftop cover for their outdoor rink space. The township has benefited greatly from provincial and federal funding in recent years to help spruce up many of its outdoor facilities. – Ken Kellar photo

Rickford shared that he has long been recommending covered spaces to municipalities in an effort to allow them to make additional use of their rink and outdoor spaces, and said he’s pleased that funding from the NOHFC and other government sources can help smaller municipalities like Chapple make the best use of their properties as possible. Rickford was behind a push to change how the NOHFC functioned in 2021, and he stressed that the change to how funding is provided means that smaller communities like Chapple can have better access to the necessary funding from projects that otherwise might struggle to get off the ground.

“I made it so we would pay 90 percent of the project cost if you were a town or First Nation community under 1,000 people,” Rickford said.

“So now the fruits of our labour are coming in. It makes a really big difference. This is going to look amazing, it’s going to be a landmark, and we’re leaving an asset here that will serve generations to come.”

Chapple joins other municipalities in the region like Sioux Narrows who are adding covered spaces to their properties and existing infrastructure, and Race said it’s encouraging for small communities like theirs to be able to receive funding from different levels of government as many of these kinds of projects would otherwise be out of their reach.

“We wouldn’t be able to do anything without the funding from the province and federal government and their support for us,” she confirmed.

“It cuts down considerably the amount the actual taxpayers of the township have to put into projects, and they happen because the provincial and federal governments are forthcoming with funds. We didn’t know at the time if we would get funding for the roof, but it all came through and we’ll have a nice facility to do all kinds of things.”

Race also noted that with the funding they received previously to pour the concrete pad for the rink area, the township is also installing a new shelter at their ballfield, as well as a new washroom facility with a shower in their RV park area.

“We have a lot of RV campers all the time,” Race noted.

“There aren’t that many places to camp across the district, so it’s usually fairly full. We’re hopeful that will get going next year.”

Race is winding down her time as reeve, and with the finish line in sight ahead of this month’s municipal elections, she reflected on just how much benefit her community will benefit from their newest additions and funding.

“This rink, even when it was just gravel base, sometimes in the winter there would be just all kinds of kids here skating,” she said.

“Now we can use it for so many other things. The ballfield is used by the [Barwick] Blue Knights, and in this whole picnic area, a lot of the buildings have been refurbished and taken care of. There’s a park across the way and they’ve done work over there. Little by little it’s coming together. It’s been a privilege to serve here for all these years. I was 17 years on council and four years as reeve, and these last years have been challenging because of COVID, but we’ve managed to stay afloat and get things done. I’m very happy with that.”