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Crossfield Minor Hockey receives grant for new ice plant at Pete Knight Memorial Arena

“This grant is really contributing to the heart of our community,” said Crossfield mayor Kim Harris.

Members of Crossfield's sport and social community are celebrating a big financial boost, after successfully applying for a $353,805 grant to chip in for a new ice plant for the town's local Pete Knight Memorial Arena. 

The funding comes from the Alberta government's Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) and will go toward the complete replacement of the Crossfield arena's aging ice plant.

Representatives from Crossfield Minor Hockey, the Town of Crossfield, and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper were at the arena on March 31 for a cheque presentation and photo op. Cooper presented the CFEP cheque on behalf of Alberta Minister of Culture, Jason Luan. Members of Crossfield's minor hockey teams were also on hand in their Ice Hawks uniforms.

“These sorts of investments are so important, not just to the young folks who play hockey, but the arena is a community hub here, and that’s why investing in communities is so important to the Government of Alberta,” Cooper said.

“It’s more than just the physical activities that take place here; it’s the leadership qualities built into young people, the camaraderie that’s built through sport, and also the connecting of multiple generations. It’s so important the government continues to make important investments like we’ve seen here in Crossfield today.” 

According to Crossfield Minor Hockey president Joel Bruce, the funding will benefit the town's hockey community in various ways. He said the current ice plant at the Pete Knight Memorial Arena is past its life expectancy, and the new plant will allow the rink to continue operations for another quarter-century, at least. 

Town reps said the installation of the new ice plant will get underway this spring, in time for the 2023-24 hockey season to start up in the early fall.

“The biggest thing is making sure we can have hockey start up on time at the start of the season and be able to extend it a little bit longer than we were able to before,” Bruce said. “We had some concerns with hot weather coming in and having to shut down sooner during playoffs. If some of our teams went late [into the post-season], we might have had to look for other locations to host out playoff games.”

According to Bruce, there are currently 92 players registered with Crossfield Minor Hockey, ranging from U5 to U11. With six local teams in town and an intro-to-hockey program, he said Crossfield's rink is a busy place, and it's crucial to have the appropriate infrastructure to support them.

“If the plant goes down, we don’t have ice, and then we’d not be able to offer our hockey programs and have to look at outlying communities, he said. “The [amount] of ice that is available in other centres is very limited as well, so if this arena wasn’t functioning or able to operate, we wouldn’t have a program here in Crossfield.” 

Also chipping in to pay for the new ice plant are the Town of Crossfield and Rocky View County. The Town's share is about $255,000, while the County recently approved allocating a one-time grant of $206,000 toward the project. 

Crossfield Mayor Kim Harris said that even though the grant was received by the local hockey association, the new ice plant will ultimately benefit several other sports clubs in town, including figure skating, lacrosse, and ringette associations, and social groups as well.

“This grant is really contributing to the heart of our community,”  she said. “We just couldn’t live without an arena here. We wouldn’t have that same quality of life for all of our groups. It’s not just hockey, figure skating, ringette, or lacrosse that happen here – we have a bit of a hall upstairs that sees a lot of different groups use it for their gathering space.  

“In a small town, [the rink] really is the heart of the community, and we think it’s valuable to keep this going.” 

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