Gillam comes together to build outdoor rink days after recreation centre blaze
Northern Manitoba community lost ice rink, curling sheets, gym in fire
A northern Manitoba community banded together and has a new outdoor hockey rink and curling sheet, just days after a fire tore through the local recreational centre.
The town of Gillam's recreational centre caught fire last week, leaving residents without an ice rink. But thanks to the initiative of local firefighters, residents once again have a place to throw rocks and shoot pucks.
"It's going back to the old days when that's just what communities did," said Jackie Clayton, chief administrative officer of the town.
"You got together, you figured it out, you built it and you used it."
Clayton said local firefighters initiated the building of an outdoor ice rink with the town in the aftermath of the Dec. 6 fire. Word spread on social media, and soon others from the community showed up to help make the rink a reality.
No one was injured in the rec centre blaze, and though arson has been ruled out as a possibility, the cause of the blaze is under investigation.
The building housed a community library and gym, which were used by the local school, along with a bowling alley, curling sheets and a hockey rink.
It was under renovation and slated to open by the end of 2018, but the fire has shifted expectations. It may not be open until 2019 or 2020, said Clayton.
"It was basically the hub of the community," said Clayton, adding the multi-purpose building was also used for weddings and funerals.
"We're trying to get creative now to where we can move these events."
Losing the rink was a big hit to the remote community, just over 740 kilometres north of Winnipeg, because recreational sports play an important role for locals, said Clayton.
"It's not like we can drive down the road and go to the next arena 20 miles away. It just doesn't work that way here, so we do need to keep everybody healthy and active here."
The rink is now open, as are curling sheets, said Clayton.