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Close to 2,000 attend grand opening of new recreational facility

by Chris Daponte

MARDEN - Over 1,500 people attended the Sept. 25 grand opening of the Royal Distributing Athletic Performance Centre - the only building of its kind in Wellington County.

Dignitaries and members of the public alike showered township officials with praise for making the 56,000 square foot facility a reality.

Warden Joanne Ross-Zuj, who was visiting for the first time since its completion, said the building offers an “amazing wow factor” to visitors.

“This is just spectacular,” she said. “It’s a much needed facility for Wellington County.”

The setting in Marden park for the indoor track and indoor and outdoor sports fields is “Just beautiful,” she added. She lauded Mayor Chris White for his leadership in getting the project completed and said residents will benefit for many years to come.

“All in all, it’s going to be a win-win for everyone in Wellington County,” she said.

There were many adjectives used to describe the new recreation centre last weekend, but perhaps none more accurate and succinct than the words of former councillor Dave McCrae, who called the new building “absolutely incredible.”

McCrae offered a brief history of Marden Park and congratulated current councillors and staff on their contribution to the next phase of the park’s history.

Like many others, master of ceremonies Don Richardson said township residents owe a lot of credit to parks and recreation manager Robin Milne, who was instrumental in securing federal and provincial funding for the building.

“Robin has worked tirelessly throughout his career” with the township to ensure residents have a high quality of life, Richardson said.

He mentioned other projects, such as the splash pad in Rockwood, and said the new recreation facility in Marden is the “culmination” of Milne’s efforts.

Mayor Chris White and councillor Doug Breen agreed most of the credit should be given to Milne. They also said local volunteers, who helped raise almost $500,000 towards the township’s portion of the cost, also deserve praise.

“It was like they were waiting for something to participate in,” White said of the community. “There was such a pent-up need for this.”

The importance of the new building goes far beyond just sports, White explained; it is hoped the facility will help rejuvenate the Marden community, which received a large blow when its local public school was closed about eight years ago.

And, the mayor added, for the first time since amalgamation residents from former Guelph and Eramosa townships will have the chance to “play together as a township.”

Milne said the idea for the building first developed over two years ago, when the township began to develop a master plan for the park in Marden.

The township was clearly lacking an indoor recreational facility, he explained, but it was through consultation with various user groups that the final vision began to take shape.

Noting that aquatics and hockey arenas - the type of facilities usually sought after in municipalities throughout the county and beyond - are much more expensive to operate, Milne said the township instead chose to building something that appealed to all demographics.

“It was something nobody else had in the county,” Milne said.

Much of the facility’s primetime rental slots are already filled and White said the building should, over time, become a source of township revenue.


Vol 43 Issue 40


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