The Minden arena will soon be open at full capacity and thanks to a $150,000 provincial grant, it’s now stocked with sports and exercise equipment for Highlanders eager to get moving.

“It’s to get more people active and help flesh out this fantastic arena and community centre we have now,” said MPP Laurie Scott, who attended a Feb. 15 press event.

Delivered through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the fund helped purchase hockey nets, ball hockey sticks, soccer balls and basketballs, fitness equipment and basketball and volleyball nets. It also funded the construction of a retractable stage and roll-up curtains for the gym.

In a press release, director of community services Craig Belfry said, “this grant will allow the township to foster more active lifestyles in the community, as this initiative is helping with infrastructure for unstructured and structured physical activities, and will have an impact on the lives of residents for years to come.”

The grant was awarded in 2019 but pandemic-related delays mean equipment is still arriving.

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“I’m going to be extremely excited that everybody in the community can come use [the arena] to its full potential,” said Mayor Brent Devolin.

Opened in 2020, the arena has been primarily used by the Haliburton County Junior A Huskies and as a mass vaccination clinic.

Devolin said while he wished the public had full access to the space earlier, he was glad it could play a role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the end, it worked out well, but the path to get here was anything but what was predicted,” he said. Soon the arena will be allowed to open at full capacity.

“We’ve been prepared all along. We’ve gotten our staffing in place,” said Belfry. He added they’re planning on increasing hours and announcing new programming soon, as well as an official opening event. “We’re excited, we’re ready,” he said.

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