By Chris Marchand
You hardly notice it, but one day things are just different. Pretty soon you have trouble remembering what they were like before.
Anyone who used to carry a giant hockey gear bag through the old doors of Dryden Memorial Arena knows how real the struggle was, and how much better off they are now since the installation of wide automatic sliding doors at the local rink.
“We were talking in the foyer the other day about it,” said Ed Trist. “I said, ‘the doors are the most important part!”
“When he first told us the price of the doors — whoa, that’s our whole budget,” added DREAM’s Marnie Oliphant. “But it’s been so worth it. They’ve been huge and everybody’s raving about them.”
Members of the Dryden Recreation Extension And Modification (DREAM) project gathered at Dryden Memorial Arena amidst the excitement of the inaugural Westy’s 3-on-3 Hockey Tournament to mark some progress toward achieving their renovation goals for the facility.
The doors come with the assistance of a recent accessibility grant. Other changes include a major (lobby) bathroom renovation with accessibility upgrades. New lighting and upgrades to the lobby area are less noticeable changes.
City councillor Norm Bush says the city would like to recognize the significant ongoing volunteer effort to raise funds and upgrade the facility, which is playing an increasing role as an economic driver for the town.
“We’re absolutely delighted that a lot of our citizens and the DREAM team in particular have really put forth this effort as volunteers,” said Bush. “We wouldn’t have the success we do in this facility without the volunteers. They’re much appreciated. We’ve had some challenging economic times in the city over the last number of years for various reasons, so as much as the city would liked to have contributed more than it has, we’re 100 per cent behind this committee. We’re going to see what we can do to improve how we can contribute. We know there’s still some things that need to be repaired and we’re hoping that will get into next year’s budget as well.”
Bush adds the city’s new community services manager has a mandate to support the arena operations and work with the fundraising committee.
DREAM has yet to complete one of their primary goals in their mission — to address challenges around dressing rooms, particularly for a growing female segment of ice users.
“Out of eight dressing rooms, two have their own washrooms — the rest are shared,” said Trist, who says proceeds from the weekend’s girls 3-on-3 tournament will support DREAM.
“When you’re in one dressing room and the men are in the other and the door gets opened to share the bathroom, it’s a little bit of an issue,” adds Marnie Oliphant.
Donations to the DREAM project can be made at city hall, with tax receipts for donations over $20.