BERWICK – Bob Best says the newly unveiled Kings Mutual Century Centre is going to become a hub not only for Berwick, but for the entire Annapolis Valley from Windsor to Digby.
The building will unveil its highly-anticipated second phase of construction Oct. 20, which includes features like a new curling rink, fitness centre, dressing room facilities and meeting rooms.
It’s a project that was nearly two decades in the making, and one the board member and lead fundraiser Bob Best is not shy of feeling proud about.
“This was many years in the making, and I can tell you it means a lot to Berwick and District as a whole,” he says.
The facility’s second phase has rung in at around $5 million in construction costs, bringing the facility’s total cost to $18 million.
It’s a high number, but one the board anticipated. Because of careful planning and continued fundraising, the building is so far debt-free.
“It all started 18 years ago – we had a group of people whose goal was to build this facility, debt free, and turn It back over to the people. And that’s exactly what we’ve done,” says Best.
The facility’s new fitness centre has created six part-time jobs and will be managed by the Town of Berwick. It is now open for use and is already attracting residents during its first week of operation, says Best.
New dressing rooms for the town’s Junior A and Major midget Valley Wildcats hockey teams – with shared washrooms and showers between them – were also created, and an existing dressing room retrofitted specifically for female teams.
Among the facility’s most anticipated features is its new Larsen Curling Centre, which is hosting a bonspiel this weekend to fete the facility’s opening and is hosting more than 30 teams. The former club could only accommodate 18.
Club president Mike Larsen says this, along with a fresh sheet of ice to curl on, has people so excited that the club has seen nearly 40 new members sign up over the past week alone.
“What this means for us as a curling club – we now have a modern facility and are now able to host larger bonspiels like provincial,” he says.
“Our membership is also up 25 per cent this year. It’s been a lot of planning and hard work, and we’re really very excited to get to this day.”
Each section at the KMCC – the curling centre, Lions Club and fitness centre – will be run separately, with each organization managing their own space and its associated costs, according to Best.
“They each have their own power bill… and have to take care of any maintenance. This has been set up this way the whole time – each section takes care of hiring their own people, and their overall cost,” said Best.
Still to come are infrastructure add ons to the building’s back lot for future 4H and farmers’ market events, and a health and wellness centre also at the building’s rear.
Best says the board is aiming to fundraise $75,000 for these spaces over the following months. He also says fundraising will help keep facility rent low – like ice time for hockey teams, or meeting rooms for parties – so all community groups can afford it.
“still got to do it, have our fundraising events, and so we can continue to hold our prices, so people can continue to use it,” said Best.
“It will be the hub of this area.”
Mike Larsen has lived in Berwick for most of his life and said he’s happy to live somewhere with a gathering that “promotes a community synergy.”
“If you took all the towns of this size around the province and looked at which ones have a building like this, it’s a pretty short list,” he says.