There seems to be a lot of energy and enthusiasm when it comes to planning for the future of recreation in Ste. Anne. 

A public meeting was held Wednesday evening to discuss the current challenges with aging facilities in the town, and Mayor Yvan St. Vincent says the turnout was impressive. 

“It was very encouraging,” he says. “We had a huge number of folks from the town, from the RM, and even our other municipalities around us that use our facilities, the turnout was fantastic. And even more impressive was when we asked for a possible rec steering committee so that we could have volunteers to help us generate ideas and help us generate solutions, we got a sign up of about 20 or so names on that list.” 

St. Vincent notes that sign-up list includes people from the region, not just the town. He feels it is important to have representation from all areas that have a stake in this. 

At the meeting, the public was given a lot of information on operation of recreation facilities, especially the challenges with older infrastructure, St. Vincent says. It appeared that nobody was surprised to hear about the struggles. 

As hard as it was to deliver this information, the mayor notes the evening had “a very positive feel to it” and he hopes this is the first step toward a brighter tomorrow for recreation in the community and the region. 

Considering there were many people from a large area surrounding the town, it seems everyone understands that it will take more than a village to save the arena. 

“We did have some counselors and the reeve from the R.M. of Ste. Anne who attended, so it was great to have them in the crowd as well,” says St. Vincent. “And they shared how the Richer community group thrives, and it's not council that is driving that group; it's volunteers in the community. So, if we want that same enthusiasm, we need that same kind of participation.” 

St. Vincent says they do not want to rely on prize money from the Kraft Hockeyville contest, but he points out that would be a huge shot in the arm if Ste. Anne could walk away from that competition with extra funds to help pay for much-needed improvements to the facility. 

The arena opened late this season due to necessary repairs and there are concerns that a lot of work and dollars will need to go into the facility if there is any chance of having it operational for another winter. 

St. Vincent says it is important to have these conversations now, to work on solutions now, rather than waiting until fall. And he feels optimistic about the future of winter sports for people in Ste. Anne and the surrounding area.