After over a decade on the drawing board, a nine person board is taking the reigns and launching a fundraising drive to assist in the construction of recreational facilities in Swift Current.
The Southwest Facility Foundation Inc. unveiled their fund-raising strategy at the April 3 Swift Current City Council meeting, announcing a $8 million target to assist with future construction of new recreational amenities.
“Our mandate is it’s time to build!” said Foundation member Dr. Sasha Godenir at Monday’s meeting.
A full launch of the Southwest Facility Foundation Inc. will be hosted at the InnovationPlex on Tuesday, April 18, but the soft launch of the group on Monday signalled a desire within the community of adding similar modern recreational facilities which are a drawing attraction in communities across Saskatchewan.
The City of Swift Current is currently awaiting the decision on a grant application for federal and provincial funding in order to construct a new Aquatic Centre. City officials peg the cost of a new facility at between $43 and $48 million, an increase from the previously estimated $36 million because of the higher specialized construction material costs to meet the requirements of the Green and Inclusive Grant they applied for.
“Our intent is to try and help to support your grant application obviously by rallying the community behind and creating a substantial amount of cash that could be used to kind of get the shovel going,” Godenir said.
Along with Dr. Godenir the initial organizing group of the Foundation consists of Brad Wood, Travis Cuthbert, Dallas Mohagen, Jim Jones, Vim Parmar, Betty McDougall, Tara Lee and Darrel Monette.
“We’ve gathered as members from different sectors to rally support from every angle we could – so ag, oil, retail, professional – that was sort of the thought behind who can we talk to,” she said. “We thought that we would have the most success in trying to capitalize on those people who stood out in those industries.”
Godenir highlighted that all the individuals helping launch the Foundation are passionate volunteers working to raise money for sport, leisure and recreational facilities.
“Most of us have children involved in rec. and sports. We grew up in rec. and sports. And we have a lot invested in it. We’re coaches. We’re parents. We’re volunteers. We’re business owners. We’re all of those things, but we definitely all feel that it is time to build.”
She personally feels that the building of either an Aquatic Centre or Field House will have a big impact for the health of people in the region.
“I think when you have a great place for community to be physically active, you are going to breed health and wellness without even trying. People want to gather there, it’s fun, they’re having celebrations, but they’re also being physically active without even thinking about it. And when you have a healthy community you have a vibrant community.”
Swift Current is noticeable among similar sized communities for lacking this type of community amenity, with stories shared at the council meeting about travelling to sporting events in Warman, Martinsville, Yorkton, Weyburn, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Regina, while Swift Current remains without similar recreation facilities.
“I can’t help but think to myself, what if Swift Current had this? What if we had this? How could we not benefit from having something like this?” she said.
“I also think, from a business perspective as a City, we’re losing out to some extent not having newer facilities like this to lean on.”
Committee member Brad Woods shared that the Foundation will serve as a support system for the City in their recreation facility projects.
“As a community, we can engage amongst ourselves to create a fundraising stream or a support for when the City does go ahead and makes a commitment to doing something that we’re going to be there to support it. We have a lot of people that are interested in getting behind this project, and this is going to be an ongoing thing,” Woods said.
He added that having the support of a fundraising foundation is also a benefit to communities and their project grant applications.
“We’ve seen that cities that have community groups have had more success in the grant applications because it shows a community buy-in. So that when the times comes to break ground that you have your government money at your provincial and federal levels, you have your municipal commitment, and then our support in assisting that municipal commitment. It’s just shown with recent announcements in Martinsville, what they’ve done in Assiniboia, that having groups in the community that are dedicated to supporting the cities in these types of projects have been more successful in grant applications.”
Swift Current Mayor Al Bridal said the formation of a Foundation is good news for any future plans regarding recreation facility constriction.
“I’m excited. I think all of council is excited about this Foundation because it is very difficult in a city this size of the amount things cost now. So we’ve very, very excited about this.”
Councillor Ryan Plewis also shared the importance of naming the group the Southwest Facility Foundation highlights the benefits of any future project to the region.
“The benefits that these sorts of facilities have are not restricted to particular geographic areas. They don’t fit nicely inside municipal boxes. So I’m really glad that you guys are focussing on the Southwest and not just Swift Current.”
“This is a facility that’s not just going to benefit as I said people that live within the jurisdiction of the City of Swift Current. This is truly going to be facilities that benefit people all across Southwest Saskatchewan. So kudos for that.”
Councillor Pat Friesen shared that recreation facilities have been on the agenda for her entire time on City Council.
“It seems to me we’ve been talking about this idea since I got on council which is about 10 years now. And it is so good to finally see it come to fruition. I am very excited.”