After decades of discussion by the Akiqnuk First Nation about the need for a centre, years of planning and months of building, the Columbia Lake Recreation Centre opens today, Thursday, April 18th.
The Akisqnuk First Nation broke ground on the new facility in December 2017. Councillor Jason Nicholas helped to spearhead the project and is excited to see it finally come together.
“I was an athlete growing up without a rec centre. I definitely knew the need for one,” said Mr. Nicholas. “I wanted to give the youth the opportunity do something else other than make bad decisions.”
He said while the project grew beyond the initial vision, he is pleased with how everything came together.
“I hope that everybody can get a chance to come in and enjoy it,” Mr. Nicholas said.
Heather Rennebohm, Akisqnuk economic development officer, says time slots are already booking up for the new centre, which features an elevated walking track, fitness room, kitchen facilities and a large gymnasium space. New equipment has been trickling into the centre, with more expected to come soon.
“We’re asking people to bear with us a little bit on equipment. And while they’re bearing with us, make use of the running track and the classes, and the net sports, and all of that,” encouraged Ms. Rennebohm.
Groups so far that have signed up to use the new facility on Hwy 93/95 include pickleball, adult drop-in basketball, and a wellness and walking group. There are still slots in the schedule available for other ongoing or special events. The first ball hockey tournament is already booked for April 26-27th. The centre is available for rent for special occasions too such as birthday parties, family reunions, or business functions.
Today is the soft opening of the centre, from 4-6:30 p.m. A grand opening will take place this June. For more information, visit www.columbialakerec.ca, see the Facebook page ‘Columbia Lake Recreation’, or call 250-342-6111.
Colleen Burgoyne will be teaching zumba classes in the new centre, hopefully by the end of this month or early in May.
Ms. Burgoyne first tried zumba, a dance-style fitness program, with a friend about six years ago. Her friend taught Ms. Burgoyne what she knew of the Latin-inspired exercise. She enjoyed zumba and tossed around the idea of becoming an instructor one day. When it became clear that the Akisqnuk’s new recreation centre would be built, Ms. Burgoyne decided to take the leap and become a certified zumba instructor.
“I like how it’s very energizing,” said Ms. Burgoyne. “Dance is one of my passions, and it’s a nice feeling after you’ve done the workout.”
She went to Calgary for training, and brings back certification and a desire to bring fitness to the Columbia Valley. Her hope is that people who take her class will find more confidence within themselves, that they will become healthier and that they will have fun.
“It’s more like a dance party, and I’m just looking to have fun with it,” the zumba instructor commented. “I just encourage anyone who wants to come out, to help lose some weight with me.”
Ms. Burgoyne is a member of the Akisqnuk First Nation and says she is happy to see the new recreation facility open.
“We’ve been waiting for this rec centre for a long time,” she said. “It will benefit our young ones, to be more active and stay away from drugs and alcohol.”