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West Hants launching fundraising campaign in early 2019 for new sports complex

West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian (left) and Hants West MLA Chuck Porter (right) watch as MP Scott Brison makes a joint funding announcement for a new recreation facility in Windsor.
West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian (left) and Hants West MLA Chuck Porter (right) watch as Kings Hants MP Scott Brison makes a joint funding announcement for a new recreation facility in Windsor on Dec. 20. Fundraising efforts will begin in earnest in 2019. - Colin Chisholm

WENTWORTH CREEK, N.S. — The fundraising committee for the new sports complex has been hard at work preparing to launch a campaign to raise upwards of $2 million.

Debbie Francis, the chairwoman of the fundraising committee and a councillor for West Hants, said they hope to officially kick off the fundraising endeavour early in 2019.

“An arena has been in the works for so many years. We’re within touching distance now so I would hope that the community comes together and we score big on this one,” said Francis in an interview.

A public engagement information session is being planned for the end of January or the beginning of February, which will not only outline the ways citizens and businesses can support the project, but will offer them a chance to see what the arena and field house will look like.

“We wanted to start (fundraising) right away because it’s been very quiet on this rink,” said Francis. “I’m in the rink — my son plays — so you hear a little buzz but we really want to get it out there because fundraising is going to be a big component to pull everything together.”

She said the committee has already heard from several businesses interested in supporting the project.

The design committee has also been hard at work on the sports complex, and a request for proposals (RFP) was sent out in December to see what can be constructed for around $12 million. At minimum, the municipality wants to construct a sports complex that offers residents an ice surface, a soccer field plus a walking track.

“The RFP closes Jan. 17 so we will have a building design to know what the sports complex facility is going to look like, what it’s going to have in it, and where we go from there,” said Francis. Once that is known, she says the public will have a much better understanding of what they will be supporting.

A chase the ace fundraiser is being planned, as is a dinner and auction, plus a softball tournament for the summertime.

“We’re not looking at bake sales or ticket raffles on small items. We need big ticket items because we need to fundraise a fair amount,” said Francis.

“We’re going to be looking for volunteers from the community as well because we can’t do it on our own,” she continued. “The more volunteers that we have that can work with our committee to help organize events, that’s going to be a bonus as well.”

On Dec. 20, the federal government announced a contribution of more than $4.4 million for the project, and the provincial government increased the amount it was donating to about $3.6 million. The Town of Windsor will be contributing $1 million over five years and West Hants has pledged $1 million.

With about $2 million in fundraising still required, Francis says the committee has its work cut out for it but she’s sure the project is one the community will rally around.


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“We have put a $2 million goal, which is a lofty goal but I think once we come together with naming rights and all of our fundraising efforts, I think it’s attainable. It’s going to be a lot of work but the group is prepared to go forward.”

While details are still being ironed out, the committee is planning to offer a seat fundraiser, similar to the one held at the GFL Recreation Centre in Brooklyn. Francis was involved with the fundraising efforts for that arena as well.

A hockey stick ‘thermometer’ will be installed in the new year at the Hants County Exhibition Grounds to show the fundraising progress.

“I really think it’s good for West Hants-Windsor to come together. This is a facility that everyone will be able to use,” said Francis.

To donate or offer to volunteer, Francis suggests contacting a committee member or reaching out to the Municipality of West Hants. A website and Facebook page will be available in the near future as well.

DID YOU KNOW?

Sports Complex Fundraising Committee Members

  • Abraham Zebian, councillor
  • Debbie Francis, councillor — chairwoman
  • Ben Bennett, resident representative
  • Torra Brown, resident representative
  • Carlee Lowe, West Hants’ director of finance

Sports Complex Design Committee Members

  • David Keith, councillor
  • Tanya Leopold, councillor — chairwoman
  • Melissa Sullivan, resident representative
  • Rick Smith, resident representative
  • Martin Laycock, West Hants’ chief administrative officer
  • Rick Sherrard, West Hants’ municipal engineer
  • Brad Carrigan, West Hants’ director of public works

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