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Posted: March 15, 2022

Pete Vereshagen Rink secured for the future

Community members pitch in to upgrade an important amenity.

Hockey pucks thwack as they hit the ice and ricochet off the newly installed galvanized steel-framed boards of the outdoor rink in Wasa. In a team effort, the community networked, contributed muscle and brainpower, and repurposed materials from elsewhere to complete the upgrade.

The Wasa and District Lions Club has been serving the East Kootenay communities of Wasa, Ta Ta Creek, Skookumchuck and Premier Lake since 1976, including by maintaining the Pete Vereshagen Memorial Rink.

Loved by residents, as well as visitors from Cranbrook, Kimberley and afar, the rink also doubles as pickleball and ball hockey courts in the summer.

“It’s a beautiful rink,” said club President Terry Potter. “It’s very nice to see the upgraded rink in action.”

On a mission to upkeep the space, the club initially wished to replace only the warped and battered blue board toppers. To do so, it received aid from Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives Program, which enables communities to decide upon which priorities they wish to support.

To find the best solution for repairs and improvements, the club reached out to the City of Cranbrook, which had recently removed the boards from its Western Financial Place hockey rink. If the Wasa club bought these used boards, it could replace its rink’s entire stretch of rotted and broken boards, not simply the toppers. The Regional District of East Kootenay stepped in to support this purchase, and Columbia Basin Trust added even more of a contribution.

“The club also made extra cash and gave its old wooden boards new life by selling them to a Slocan group—because its rink was smaller than Wasa’s, it was thrilled to be able to add boards from the wood that was still useable. “It’s a good use of materials when little’s going to the landfill,” said Potter.

Back in Wasa, about 15 volunteers worked over 650 hours to bring the Cranbrook boards to their new home, plan how to lay them out and install them.

“Our volunteers are the backbone and connectors for this community. With some guidance and a plan, everything lined up properly and came together beautifully,” said Potter. “It’s such a beautiful area and such a fantastic group of people that we’ve got in the community.”

Potter figures that, over winter 2021/22, about 300 people showed up at the rink for pickup games of hockey, team practices, and school and family skating outings—highlighting how this project is supporting community well-being and inspiring people to get outdoors.

“This project is so valuable because it provides the rink with boards for a very long time, like 25-plus years. I think those boards might outlast me!” Potter said. “While we’re pretty small around here, the Wasa rink project is special because it shows what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Columbia Basin Trust photos

Columbia Basin Trust

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