Committee recommends activities be provided year-round at Providence Bay arena

PROVIDENCE BAY – If Central Manitoulin council gives final approval to phase one of a proposal from the Providence Bay/Spring Bay recreation committee, the local arena will be getting a lot more use.

The proposal is for the repurposing of the Providence Bay arena and grounds into a year-round recreation facility. It was put together by Councillor Angela Johnston in collaboration with various community members and the full support of the Providence Bay/Spring Bay recreation committee.

“This was started by my husband and I, and other families in the area that were talking about there not being a lot of things for kids and families to do,” said Councillor Johnston at a Central Manitoulin property committee meeting last week. “Currently there are limited opportunities for varied forms of recreation in Central Manitoulin. In addition, the municipality has two arenas which are both underutilized. This proposal would allow for more recreational activities in the municipality and would make better use of the infrastructure that already exists, and the arena and grounds are not being used as much as they could be.” 

“The arena building is in good shape,” said Councillor Johnston, who pointed out there are actually five phases to the proposal. 

With community members and members of the Providence Bay/Spring Bay recreation committee having provided $5,000 to purchase supplies for phase one, it would include many activities. “With council’s support we would like to get ready so that when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted we will be ready to go,” explained Councillor Johnston.

In phase one, the arena would be opened for drop-in activities on the concrete floor as well as outdoor activities on the rounds. Potential activities include basketball, racquet sports (pickleball, badminton, tennis), NERF wars, roller skating/blading, walking, ball hockey, archery, soccer (outdoors). Volunteers would run the activities, explained Councillor Johnston. She noted that the municipality would be asked to sponsor the use of the facilities and have municipal staff present to help with putting out and storing equipment. The canteen could also be open for fundraising, and there would be no charge to participants of the activities, but donations would be accepted.

“The big benefit of all of this is that it would get people active, and provide for more use of the arena,” said Councillor Johnston.

“I would like to congratulate Angela for her presentation and for her and the group thinking outside the box,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. “I think this a real good idea. I would give my full support to this.”

“This is a very nice proposal, and I would support phase one,” said Councillor Steve Shaffer. “It would not require much support from the municipality but would provide much needed activity for youth. This would be based on a lot of volunteer hours and commitment. We should be promoting this part of it.”

The committee passed a recommendation that will go to the full council, “that the Providence Bay recreation committee proposal phase one be approved and that staff be directed to work with the group on promotion and implementation of phase one, provided that COVID-19 regulations and restrictions are followed.”