North

After 9 years, new recreation centre in Behchoko expected to open this month

The Khon Go Cho Complex in Behchoko is set to open later this month, nine years after the last recreational centre closed because the building was not up to code.

'I think what we want to do is have a healthy, vibrant, safe community,' says Behchoko chief

'It will be kind of a focal point for our community,' says Chief Clifford Daniels (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)

The Khon Go Cho Complex in Behchoko is set to open later this month, nine years after the last recreational centre closed because the building was not up to code.

The newly renovated facility will have an ice rink, youth centre, exercise room, gymnasium and 50,000 square feet of office space.

Sixteen-year-old Anthony Bekale says he's looking forward to using the centre when it opens, adding that it's been a long time coming.  

He remembers playing soccer and watching drum dances and hand games at the old sportsplex.  He says it used to be a popular hangout spot for the community.
'I'm pretty excited to see for myself,' says 16-year-old Anthony Bekale. 'When it opens [it will create] a lot of possibilities and opportunities for the young.' (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)

"I'm pretty excited to see for myself," he said.  "When it opens [it will create] a lot of possibilities and opportunities for the young."  

Bekale says he can't wait to play soccer, hockey, basketball and volleyball. Right now, he only gets to do those activities at the Chief Jimmy Bruno School in Edzo, he says.

Getting funding

In the years since 2007, plans to renovate the facility ran into funding troubles. In the last few years, however, the community managed to come up with the necessary $15 million. The community secured $9 million through a bank loan and a further $6 million from the Tlicho and federal governments, as well as Dominion Diamonds.
Construction began in August, 2014. The project deadline had to be pushed back a couple of times, but Chief Daniels says it is still on budget. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)

Construction began in August, 2014. The project deadline had to be pushed back several times, but Behchoko Chief Clifford Daniels says it is still on budget.  

"It will be a multifunctional type building. So it will be kind of a focal point for our community," he said.  

Daniels says that the facility will not only provide a place for sports and leisure but could also create up to 12 jobs for residents, working as custodians, in recreation and even security.

Office space will be rented out to help supplement the costs of maintaining the building.  

'A healthy, vibrant, safe community' 

The new facility is definitely a step in the right direction, says Daniels. For years, Behchoko has had alcohol and drug abuse issues despite a prohibition banning alcohol in the community. 
Right now, most activities happen at the Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Edzo. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)

Daniels hopes that the Khon Go Cho Complex will spur positive change.

"It's really time for the community to turn around.  And show there are other things besides those things for our youth and for our future. 

"I think what we want to do is have a healthy, vibrant, safe community. This is a start," says Daniels.  

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony and drum dance following the grand opening, expected on Oct. 29.