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Minister McMahon re-opens Eganville Arena

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer 
Ontario minister of tourism, culture and sport Eleanor McMahon (left) and Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy (back third from right) joined some local minor hockey players for a photo during opening ceremonies for the Eganville Arena Friday. In the photo are (front left to right) Owen Felhaber, Mark Baillie, Aydan Flegal, Logan Heideman, Ben Warren, (back left to right) Curtis Warlich and Cash Welk.

Sean Chase/Daily Observer Ontario minister of tourism, culture and sport Eleanor McMahon (left) and Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy (back third from right) joined some local minor hockey players for a photo during opening ceremonies for the Eganville Arena Friday. In the photo are (front left to right) Owen Felhaber, Mark Baillie, Aydan Flegal, Logan Heideman, Ben Warren, (back left to right) Curtis Warlich and Cash Welk.

 

EGANVILLE – The Township of Bonnechere Valley welcomed a special guest and former resident Friday as Eleanor McMahon, minister of tourism, culture and sport visited the community to commemorate the official re-opening of the Eganville Arena.

A ceremony to conclude a $1.1 million project to rehabilitate the aging rink was held at centre-ice with students from St. James Catholic School and Eganville District Public School packing the stands for this milestone. Like so many rinks around Renfrew County, the Eganville Arena was built in the 1970s primarily with funding from Wintario and has been showing its age.

“Lately, it has required a sustantial amount of rehabilitation to ensure that we are able to continue using it,” said Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy.

The township council spent money to replace the roof and upgrade the infrastructure to meet changing fire and building codes. For the latest renovations, which results in a new ice pad, brine lines, boards, dehumidifiers and related interior climate equipment, the township received a $445,000 grant from the province's Ontario 150 Community Capital Program administered by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

For McMahon, this was as much a homecoming as an official government announcement. The minister once lived in the village for several years and returned last year to help mark its 125th anniversary.

“I will always be grateful for my time in Eganville,” said McMahon, who was first elected to Queen's Park in 2014 and represents the riding of Burlington. “This is a very special place with a long history, beautiful scenery and, most of all, pretty great people.”

While the arena is closely identified with its robust ice programs, such as minor hockey, men's league and figure skating, McMahon noted that it provides a focal point for the township, a place where weddings, art shows and community celebrations take place year round.

“This arena is much more than a sportsplex,” said the minister. “Places like this one have a long and storied history in the lives of a community and this is clearly an investment that is going to pay off for years to come.”

Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski echoed that sentiment in his remarks thanking the minister for the grant that made this project possible. Looking at the students in the stands, he noted that it was nice to see the folks who will benefiting most from these timely upgrades.

“An arena is a focal point for our community and in a country like Canada, where hockey and skating is so important, having a facility that is up-to-date and in great shape is an absolute necessity,” said Yakabuski.

Murphy lauded contractors McIntosh and Perry, Frecon, Cimco and Athletica for bringing the project in on time. She also thanked neighbouring North Algona/Wilberforce council for contributing $50,000 over two years for the initiative. Heating will soon be installed in the stands thanks to the sponsorship of Lahay Mechanical, Bonnechere Caves, Rio Tap and Grill, Canadian Woodworking, McCarthy's Fuels and the Friends of the Arena organization.

SChase@postmedia.com