Following the 2021 arson, which not only left a Portage community centre burnt to ashes but a piece of the community heartbroken as well, we are starting to learn the next steps the Koko Platz Rec Centre will take as they rebuild what was selfishly taken away.

Board member of the Koko Platz Community Rec Centre Julene Toews-Dewis says that the rebuilding project has partnered with the City of Portage la Prairie in reimagining what the Rec Centre will look like.

"On our behalf, the City of Portage applied for a grant that's called the Building Sustainable Communities Program. We were awarded a $150,000 grant for a new rink surface. So, in addition to rebuilding the building that burned down, we're also going to be looking at a new rink space coming up as well," continues Toews-Dewis. "The vision that the club has for that rink space is for it not only to be a rink that is used and well loved just like it was before. But to also make it a four-season offering where in the summertime it can be converted to basketball courts or other type of courts."

Toews-Dewis outlines that the goal right now is to have the rink up and running for the winter of 2023-24.

"Of course, that is contingent on suppliers and designers and everything going well, but that is certainly our priority to make that happen. So, there won't be a rink for this year because we're going to be preparing it for next year and a new build. But we are hoping to bring in some winter activities for this year because we know that the community has missed coming to the site. So, we're looking at different options such as snow hills or a snow maze or different ways of getting people back to the site as we build the new rink."

The board member says they will be facilitating fundraising for both the rink and building in the coming weeks, starting with an outdoor movie night at Koko Platz on September 10th where everyone in Portage and surrounding areas is invited.

"It's been wonderful the different folks that have come out to our club saying that they want to support us, and we're going to be reaching out to the community later this year with a formal fundraising campaign. At that point, we are going to know what the site might look like. We'll have some initial drawings and plans to share and discuss what we'll be looking at for fundraising goals."

Toews-Dewis notes there is a lot of optimism around rebuilding the once loved community centre to what it was with a few enhancements.

"We're very excited for what the future is going to bring." 

File Photo.