PEI

Curling club to replace existing rinks in Alberton and O'Leary being planned

Plans are in the works to construct a new, $5 million curling club in Mill River.

'This project would be a fantastic community asset and a key piece of infrastructure'

This is a sketch of what the new, $5 million curling club proposed for Mill River will look like. Applications for funding went in this week. If they can secure funding, construction could start on the new rink this fall. (West Prince Curling Inc.)

Plans are in the works to construct a new, $5 million curling club in Mill River.

Members of the Maple Leaf Curling Club in O'Leary and the Western Community Curling Club in Alberton have unveiled plans which will see their two aging rinks closed and a new facility constructed centrally, across from the Mill River Resort.

Four sheets of ice, as well as a restaurant and meeting space which can be used year-round are planned for the new facility.

Clair Sweet, president of the newly created West Prince Curling Inc., says both rinks will soon need significant investments and it isn't viable to construct two new curling rinks in the region. He said a new, centrally located curling club will be a huge asset for all of West Prince. 

'A win-win for the area'

"We've curled in Montague and Cornwall in particular this year and there's been a little bit of talk across the province and everybody seems to be excited, they think it's a win-win for the area," said Sweet, who has been curling for more than 40 years.

Clair Sweet, president of the newly created West Prince Curling Inc., says both rinks will soon need significant investments and it simply isn’t viable to construct two new curling rinks in the region. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"They would be more liable to come up and curl for a weekend and stay." 

The Maple Leaf Curling Club is more than 40 years old. It was only able to operate three of its four sheets of ice this year.

The Western Community Curling Club is more than 50 years old and didn't open at all this year because of a combination of water damage to the building and COVID-19 restrictions, which limit the number of people allowed inside.

The ice-making plants at both rinks also need to be replaced soon.

'One is stronger than two'

Audrey Callaghan, vice-president of the Western Community Curling Club in Alberton, said one central curling club will increase membership and make it easier financially, having only one building to maintain. 

Audrey Callaghan, vice-president of the Western Community Curling Club in Alberton, says one central curling club will increase membership and make it easier financially, having only one building to maintain. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Callaghan said it's also exciting to see both communities working together. 

"One is stronger than two and with the buildings getting older and plants and stuff so with the merger they've all agreed to get together and see if we could go to one central location," said Callaghan.

"We approached Mill River, the two clubs, and the rest is kind of history. We're just working to see if we can get one central location that's good from Lennox Island to North Cape."

The group is making an application for funding to the federal and provincial governments this week.

It will also sell the existing curling clubs in O'Leary and Alberton to help pay for the new rink. 

Supporting winter tourism 

If the group can secure funding, it says it would start construction in the fall with the new facility open sometime next year. 

Geoffrey Irving, president of Mill River Resort, says the resort could use the curling club as a secondary venue for events, gatherings and weddings in the off-season. (Submitted by Geoffrey Irving)

Geoffrey Irving, president of Mill River Resort, said they were approached by the two local curling clubs about the idea of consolidating the two rinks and both clubs felt Mill River would be an ideal location. 

The Mill River Resort is donating the land for the new curling club. 

Irving said the resort could use the curling club off-season as a secondary venue for events, gatherings and weddings. 

"We think this project would be a fantastic community asset and a key piece of infrastructure for attracting winter tourism to West Prince and we would like to support that any way we can," said Irving.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wayne Thibodeau

Prince Edward Island

Wayne Thibodeau is a reporter/editor with CBC Prince Edward Island. He has worked as a reporter, editor, photographer and video journalist in print, digital and TV for more than 20 years. He can be reached at Wayne.Thibodeau@CBC.ca

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