Grand Opening This Saturday for Upper Skeena Rec Centre

John Crawford

The doors are finally open on the long-awaited Upper Skeena Recreation Centre in Hazelton -- and this weekend, the official party will be held to let everyone celebrate the occasion.


The state-of-the-art, year-round recreation facility includes an NHL size ice rink, a multi-purpose gym, a fitness centre, rentable banquet and meeting facilities, a seniors-oriented walking area, and an art area featuring Gitxsan art.


Doctor Peter Newbery -- one of the driving forces behind the project -- says after many years of planning, and two years of construction -- it's a relief to finally see the building open its doors to the public.

"Because there's a huge amount of work that's gone into this and obviously a lot of expense; the building itself is wonderful -- it's going to be a terrific addition to the community -- and the community has rallied around this whole project, so everyone has stepped up to the plate -- the municipalities, the First Nation people -- hereditary and elected chiefs -- the regional district, and individual donors from across the country to make this happen, so it's a tremendous symbol of our ability to work together to get things done," he said.

Saturday's Grand Opening Ceremony starts at 1pm, and will feature former Hazelton mayor Alice Maitland, who was another one of the driving forces behind the project, along with several First Nations dignitaries and many of the project's private donors.

Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen are also scheduled to attend.  





Vision for the project aims to address physical, educational and social needs of the region




September 10, 2019, Hazelton, BC – On Saturday, September 14, 2019, from 1- 3pm, the Upper Skeena’s most significant development project ‑ a state of the art, year-round recreation facility ‑ will celebrate a grand opening in style in the company of its many supporters.  All are invited to attend and enjoy the festivities which include a free kid’s skate, a basketball scrimmage, food and beverage, along with opening remarks from MP Nathan Cullen, MLA Doug Donaldson, architect John Hemsworth, and Alice Maitland, mayor-emeritus of the Village of Hazelton, and major energy behind the origin of the project.


“The project was made possible because the need was great, and our Upper Skeena community seized the opportunity. Today we will gather and continue to build a safer, healthier community –with our eyes opened to what we can achieve when we work together. Even though the construction is now complete, the work to use this centre of wellness, recreation and sport as a catalyst for dialogue, hope and action starts today,” said Dr. Newbery.


The 54,000 sq. ft. centre, which showcases locally sourced wood and other custom touches, features an NHL-sized ice rink, with capacity for 500 spectators, a multi-purpose gym, a well-equipped fitness centre, rentable banquet and meeting facilities, a seniors-oriented walking area, and an art area featuring Gitxsan art. Truly multi-purpose and multi-generational, programs and services are offered to all ages and a variety of sporting and cultural interests. The new centre replaces the old Hazelton ice rink, which was deemed unsafe in 2015, leaving a serious gap in the recreational sports community in the Upper Skeena district.


In a feat of collaboration and fundraising in a region with ongoing economic challenges, over $21 million was raised from a variety of sources from across the country including private donors, federal, provincial and municipal governments, Bulkley Valley Credit Union, Royal Bank of Canada, and Gitxsan government. It is expected that the facility will become a major part of, and stimulus for, the social, economic and physical wellness of the whole region as a host to tournaments, public skating, weddings, birthdays, conferences, workshops, educational and other gatherings.  The new facility has also been described as a new source of hope for the region as a whole.


The Upper Skeena Recreation Centre is open from 8am – 9pm, seven days a week.





Dr. Peter Newbery, Chair, Heart of the Hazeltons



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