The town of Assiniboia was on full display on Saturday afternoon, as they cut the ribbon on their brand new $18 million state-of-the-art recreational facility – the Southland Co-op Centre.  

Assiniboia Civic Improvement Association (ACIA) members, Mayor Sharon Schauenberg, neighbouring RM’s, MLA of Wood River, David Marit, the Southland Co-op, and more joined together to officially open the new facility and hand over the keys to the building.  

This project was over 10 years in the making and was made possible by the generosity of the community, surrounding Rural Municipalities, businesses, the federal and provincial governments, and of course the ACIA which held over 100 fundraisers to put towards the project. 

At the helm of the ACIA was president, Curtis Nelson who 12 years ago had a vision of this facility and now for that dream to come to life, needless to say, there were a few tears shed on Saturday.  

“I’m kind of overwhelmed by the support of the community, it was phenomenal from day one,” says Nelson. “We put on I don’t know how many events. The support we’ve gotten from the community and not just Assiniboia, the whole south area. All the RMs have supported the project. Anytime we did anything people came from all over to support it.” 

Over the last 12 years the ACIA has been able to raise roughly $500,000 per year through events such as their Spring Fever Lotto and a by-annual Sportsmen Supper and Auction, as well as corporate and individual donations. 

Leading up to Saturday, only a handful of people had access and saw the final project, so it was a well-kept secret to what exactly the facility has to offer.  

The new Southland Co-op Centre features an NHL-sized hockey rink, walking track, teen and kids centre, fully licensed concession, rock climbing wall, pickleball-sized gym, and a simulator room that is pre-loaded with about 30 games including hockey and golf. 

“Not everybody is a hockey fan. If we’re building a facility for the community, we wanted there to be something for everybody. Our vision with our group was let’s make this the Taj Mahal kind of thing.” 

The facility was designed and constructed after the Merlis Belsher Place in Saskatoon, which is a new recreation facility used by the University of Saskatchewan. Belsher is originally from McCord, a small community an hour southwest of Assiniboia. He has visited the site a number of times.   

Mayor Schauenberg was almost emotional seeing her community’s new recreation centre finally open to the public.  

“Now that people can come in and take a look and check out their new Southland Co-op Centre,” notes Schauenberg. “It’s amazing and it’s just the joy, the smiles, and the laughter. We just finished the opening ceremonies and the kids are literally running to the dressing rooms, it’s phenomenal. It’s a great day for our community.” 

“When they designed it, they incorporated a lot of that, but some of the updated technology to accommodate people with disabilities. Just the different little things that have been added like the team logos on the ceiling lit up with LED lights. Locker rooms have their own lockers, wooden stalls, stick racks, coaches' lounges, and a fully licensed concession,” adds Schauenberg.  

The new facility is already booked with tournaments for the upcoming hockey season. She confirmed that 11 tournaments will be played this year in the new rink, one of which is a sledge hockey tournament.  

The hope is the new facility will also become a location for concerts and other events. On Saturday night the Southland Co-op Centre will host its first even concert as Saskatoon’s Lisa Moen, Rockglen’s Tyler Lewis, and headliner - Langenburg’s Jess Moskaluke will take to the stage.  

The exterior of the rink will feature a large video screen, with the hope to be used for Saskatchewan Roughrider tailgate parties and other outdoor events.   

The Southland Co-op Centre will replace its existing arena the Civic Centre which was built back in 1958 and began to become outdated.   

Crews broke ground on the new facility on June 28, 2021. The expected completion date was scheduled for the summer of 2022, and to be fully operational by the fall of 2022.   

Overall, the new recreation centre cost roughly $18 million with $11.5 million pitched in by the federal and provincial governments. The ACIA along with donations from the community helped with the remaining amount.