PORT ELGIN, N.B. – Blistering cold weather didn’t deter the many local residents who joined students and staff outside of the Port Elgin Regional School last Friday morning for the official opening of the Chad and Colby Memorial Rink. The new facility replaces the old rink, which had been located on East Main Street in the village, dismantled in 2016 to make room for construction of the new fire hall which also came into service on January 1 of this year.
The new rink was dedicated in honour of two area teens, Colby Callender and Chad Alder, who were killed in a tragic automobile accident just outside of Port Elgin in November, 2015 that also left then 17 year-old Jason Bourque critically injured.
At the official opening last week, PERS principal Christoph Becker talked about the youths and their love of skating on the community rink with their families and friends.
“On November 6, 2015 our little community was shaken to its core when we lost two of our kids, and a third was badly injured. We are honoured to have those families
with us here today to celebrate this special event. We were all left reeling from this,” Becker told those gathered.
He went on to tell about how a man passing through the village some years ago had gone to the community rink and joined a number of children and youth playing a pick-up game of hockey and how one older teen kept passing the puck to a little boy so he might score a goal.
After more than an hour of fruitless shots, the younger boy finally scored a goal, winning the game. It turned out that the older boy was Colby Callender and the little one his younger brother.
“After hearing that story, we had something to hold onto…we wanted to honour the memory of Colby and Chad by building a new rink. We started by applying for grants and so many folks wrote with passion about why we needed a new rink for our community. Those grants didn’t come through but luckily we have a company in our community that cares about our kids…” Becker said.
Naming Atlantic Windows as a generous contributor, he added that company donated $30,000 to the rink-building project. Rink committee members also applied for funding through a Farm Credit Canada rural assistance program and received $20,000 through its AgriSpirit Fund.
The Village of Port Elgin also received some $28,0000 for the new rink through the Canada 150 infrastructure grant initiative.
“The building of this new rink was truly a labour of love…more than 200 people worked to make this happen…’ he said.
Representatives from Farm Credit Canada AgriSpirit Fund and Atlantic Windows were also on hand for the event.
Becker then assisted Jason Bourque in cutting the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the new facility. The rink, which is located adjacent PERS on land owned by the Anglophone East School District, is owned and will be maintained by the village of Port Elgin with the help of local volunteers.
Becker said the rink was built for use in winter but can also be utilized in summer for various activities.
“We hope to see is used all year round. Future plans could include fitting it out to be used as a tennis court and for roller blading. We want our kids to be active and this facility provides a lot of potential for all kinds of events and activities,” he said.