On Sept. 17, 2022, the Town of Assiniboia cut the ribbon on its brand-new, $18 million recreational facility – the Southland Co-op Centre.
This facility was 10 years in the making and became a reality after countless fundraisers put on by the Assiniboia Civic Improvement Association (ACIA) and help from the provincial and federal governments.
Fast forward to now, four months later the facility has become the community hub where everyone can go to exercise, watch or play hockey, and catch up with friends and family.
“It has been unbelievable, there are no words to describe how great it has been and how this new rink has become so much more than anything we ever anticipated,” says Steph VanDeSype, Assiniboia’s Recreation and Community Wellness manager.
The Southland Co-op Centre is fully equipped with several amenities that makes it such a versatile facility such as 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.
“The walking track is full of people, the teen centre, the multi-purpose room, and the parent and tot's room. We are seeing everybody from zero to 100 enjoying the space all day every day. We have groups meeting for supper and drinks who are sticking around and watching a hockey game,” adds VanDeSype.
The new centre now fills the void of an all-encompassing recreational facility that suits the needs of the community and the surrounding areas.
She explained a story of an older gentleman on just how much the Southland Co-op Centre has helped him.
“His wife passed away earlier this year and is at the rink every single day walking the walking track. He said he was worried about being lonely this winter but he goes and walks, visits with people on the track, and watches the kids play hockey. He said from walking every day that his knees and hips don’t hurt like they used to and is really enjoying the social atmosphere.”
Prior to the facility’s grand opening, word got out about what the arena had to offer and as a result, 11 hockey tournaments were pre-booked.
“Everybody wants to be there; it’s hopping and fun. Anyone that has played in the tournament is already phoning to see if they could play again next year and just love the space.”
VanDeSype says the nice thing about the new facility is that most of the amenities people can enjoy for free such as pickleball, rock climbing, and the kid's centre, which has made it great for tournaments.
“We’re hearing from a ton of people from our tournaments that might have six hours between games, which isn’t enough time between games because they’re enjoying all the other amenities. People are staying and enjoying the delicious food, and are able to have a drink or two with their friends. People don’t want to leave.”
The Southland Co-op Centre has also brought an economic benefit to the community. VanDeSype says there’s a sense of excitement within Assiniboia.
“The hotel rooms are full, the restaurants you can’t a table, the movie theatre, and stores are busy.”
The various hockey tournaments and events the community has planned will also have an economic impact in Moose Jaw, as people will also be staying within the city and travelling back and forth to Assiniboia.
The Southland Co-op Centre replaced the community’s existing arena the Civic Centre which was built back in 1958, as it 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.
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.