A community volunteer project to build an ice rink at at the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation at Cape Croker is well on its way.
Nawash Rink Project Volunteer Committee Co-chair Scott Lee says so far, they've done about $700,000 worth of work on the roughly estimated $1.4 million dollar project.
Lee says their goal is to expose kids to hockey, "Our goal is to bring those kids that arent in the minor hockey systems and bring them together and give them the opportunity to play hockey."
Right now, Lee says there is no local rink, they have to either go to Wiarton or Lion's Head.
So far, the concrete ice pad is now installed and the boards and glass have also been put up. Lee says the ice chiller unit is due to arrive in mid January.
The rink will be 185 feet long by 85 feet wide, and Lee says like Harrison Park in Owen Sound, the ice system will use a chiller to keep the rink operating when warmer temperatures would have melted a homemade rink, "It's like your regular arena."
The next step is to decide on a structure to go around the rink.
"We're looking at two different styles right now, a pavilion style or a fully enclosed structure to cover the ice rink and accommodate all four seasons for events and different activities," says Lee, adding some ideas are for lacrosse, ball hockey, maybe a farmer's and craft market on weekends, or for events like dances or for live music.
Lee says they have sent a number of applications out for government grants and to different agencies that support outdoor rinks and First Nations initiatives.
"We're waiting on that so we can decide what the actual structure will look like."
He notes Chief and Council are also committed to keeping the rink running on the operations and maintenance side of things. "I think that's always a big concern for any community when you build a facility like this, is your operation and maintenance dollars can become very high."
Meanwhile, the plan is to have a fundraising golf tournament at Cobble Beach in the summer and there will likely be other fundraisers.
Lee says there have been some companies that have leant a hand, including Enbridge and Attack Hockey as well as Bruce Power and its suppliers.
He says there's also some interest from NHL alumni to take part in some events at the rink.
On top of that, Lee says they have a lot of hockey players in the community who are 'old timers' who want to teach hockey skills, run drills and get kids out there to enjoy the sport.
"The kids are very anxious to use it right now," and Lee says once the weather permits it, they'll put some natural ice on the pad so kids can use the rink for now.
You can learn more on the Nawash Ice Rink Project Facebook Page.
Click play below to watch a video by Fifth Ground Entertainment about the project.