OXFORD – Efforts are continuing to make improvements to the Oxford Arena so it can remain an essential part of the community for many years to come.
That effort recently received a substantial boost in proceeds from a pair of events to raise money for the facility.
“It shows how much people care about the rink,” Oxford arena committee member Cole Wood said. “I have cousins who play hockey and friends, whose kids play hockey and it’s nice to see more people using the rink. When I played minor hockey, there may have been four of us from Oxford playing. Now we’re seeing more playing hockey and using the rink.”
Coun. Tom Kay, who chairs the committee created last year to look for ways to increase revenue for the arena, said things are going very well and a number of improvements have already been made including the installation of LED lighting in the facility as well as efficiency upgrades to the ice plan.
“We’ve already done a lot of work and there’s a lot more to be done including putting in a new entrance to limit the amount of warm air coming into the rink,” Kay said. “We’re also insulating what we can to make the building more energy efficient.”
The town is paying for the upgrades and keeping track of the cost savings acquired. That information will be sent to Efficiency Nova Scotia for a rebate.
Kay said efficiencies are already being realized.
For example, he said, the Cumberland County Exhibition used the arena for the entire month of August – as in other years – but there was an $800 saving on the power bill as a result of the conversion to LED lighting.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Mayor Trish Stewart said a lot of work has been done during the last decade to improve the rink. That includes up to $250,000 in work on the ice plant, the dressing rooms, lighting and arena glass.
“We’ve come a long way and with this arena committee we’ve been able to put a bigger investment into it,” Stewart said. “People are coming out to the rink again and are using it more. It’s great for the community.
“The rink really is the heart and soul of the community and if it weren’t for this committee a lot of this wouldn’t be possible. They’re working together to keep something they feel is important and they’re working with the town to grow it into something bigger.”
Stewart hopes to see the rink used on a year-round basis with more events during the summer.
To help raise money for the upgrades, the arena committee joined forces with the Masonic Lodge, the fire department and the Oxford Lions Club to host a dance in July while a fish and game show was held in September.
The Oxford branch of Scotiabank matched the money raised in both fundraisers, resulting in a contribution of $7,500 to the effort.
“All that money is going directly into the arena,” Kay said. “Our CAO, Darrell White, has set up a separate budge line for us to track the fundraising we do.”
Kay said arena usage is also increasing with minor hockey, fun hockey, recreational hockey and ringette taking up most of the ice while businesses in the community have also bought ice to sponsor recreational skating sessions.
“It’s so busy that we’ve been trying to find a weekend to host a tournament but haven’t been able to book one yet,” Kay said. “That shows how much the arena is being used by the community.”
Another big boost has come from the Municipality of Cumberland that provided a grant of $25,000 to the arena.