Bringing curling back to Wynyard
The local curling club had already been closed for almost six years, because of a broken ice plant and a leaky roof, when Ontario native Kyle Stefanovic moved to Saskatchewan and took over the job of Director of Leisure Services for the Town of Wynyard (pop. 2000).
“One of the first things I did when I got hired was do a community recreation survey to get an understanding of what Wynyard residents wanted in terms of recreation,” he says. “I wanted to know if we were meeting the community’s recreation needs, and if we weren’t, if we could do something about it.”
When the survey results came back, Stefanovic says, over 80 per cent of respondents made it clear: they wanted to be able to curl again.
For small towns across the country, the curling club isn’t just a recreation centre. During the long winter months, it’s often the social centre, too.
Weekly leagues get people together to be active, and weekend bonspiels draw visitors from other towns to curl for fun, or for charity fundraising, or to nurture the next generation of curlers.
Wynyard residents had spoken: they needed their curling club back.
So Stefanovic got to work. With the assistance of the Town’s Waterworks Foreman, he climbed scaffolding to fix the club’s roof and ceiling. He trained himself on how to make curling ice. And crucial to the success of the venture, he started applying for grants to replace the ice plant.
With $17,700 from the Canadian Curling Association and further funding from the federal government, Wynyard Curling Club was able to replace its ailing ice plant and get curlers back on the ice, including a school-age and highschool program.
Helping communities like Wynyard is a priority for the Canadian Curling Association. We know how important curling is to communities and how devastating it can be when a club closes. With that in mind, last year the CCA gave out $255,000 in 26 grants to help local curling clubs and associations.
That was a tremendous boost for 26 communities,
but sadly, it wasn’t enough.
The CCA actually received applications for almost $1 million in funding needs. They simply had to turn down some clubs that needed help to grow and become sustainable.
But donors to the new For the Love of Curling program can help ensure more communities don’t lose their clubs. With a gift of $25, $50 or more, you can support other curlers and ensure curling thrives across Canada. Because you know life is better with curling in it!
And that’s exactly what the town of Wynyard celebrated at the club’s Grand Re-Opening in December of last year.
“Curling is back in Wynyard,” announced mayor Ted Czarnecki. “This is a great day, and I’m excited to be part of it.”
“Wynyard has always been a hotbed for curling,” Czarnecki said. “To see the sport in this rejuvenation process is exciting.”
Equally delighted was Saskatchewan Curling Association Executive Director, Amber Holland, the 2011 national champion and world women’s curling silver medallist, who knows a thing or two about curling in small towns.
“I get asked ‘What’s the state of curling in Saskatchewan?’” Holland told the assembled crowd, noting that she sometimes has to respond that yes, some clubs are struggling for members, and some clubs are closing. But Wynyard is one of the good news stories. “Hey, this curling club is reopening, and we’re going to have more members and more people involved in the sport.”
And the people of Wynyard are grateful, Stefanovic adds.
“Not just because the rink is open again. But because it’s busy, and becoming another winter hub in the community.”