The Hay River Rec Centre and some of its main interior areas are about to get some names.

A recommendation on the names was to be voted on at the town council meeting on Feb. 17, and it was expected to pass.

The recommendation from town administration would see the Rec Centre named the Hay River Community Centre for an indefinite term.

The Rec Centre will be getting a new overall name, plus names for some interior sections. Since it was built, the new structure hasn’t officially been called the Don Stewart Recreation Centre. However, that name can still be seen on the back exterior wall of the aquatic centre, which existed prior to construction of the new arena and curling club.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Inside the building, there would be the Aurora Ford Arena for a 20-year term, the Hay River Curling Club for a 10-year term, and the Don Stewart Aquatic Centre for the life of the building.

At council’s Feb. 10 meeting, Coun. Brian Willows requested clarification on what is going to be the name on the outside of the building.

“Is it going to be the Hay River Community Centre or is it going to be Aurora Ford Arena?” he asked.

Stephane Millette, the director of recreation with the town, offered greater detail on the naming plans.

“The entire complex would be the Hay River Community Centre and so the front of the building facing Woodland Drive would say Hay River Community Centre,” he said. “There’s a sign at the back entrance to the aquatic centre that would be changed to the Don Stewart Aquatic Centre, and then the Aurora Ford Arena would simply be the skating and ice hockey arena.”

Millette added that further plans are being looked at for naming other spaces in the complex.

Coun. Keith Dohey spoke in favour of the name changes, noting they were also supported by the Rec Committee.

For one thing, he welcomed the recognition of Aurora Ford.

In 2015, Go Auto, the owner of Aurora Ford, announced a $1-million donation – $100,000 a year over 10 years – to support construction of the centre, which was opened in 2018.

“With Aurora’s $1-million donation that they’ve given to the building, I think that it’s appropriate that we do something to honour them and thank them for that,” Dohey said. “That’s a huge contribution for a town our size.”

The councillor also said he was glad to see that the Don Stewart name is going to stay.

The former building had been known as the Don Stewart Recreation Centre before it was demolished – except for the swimming pool – to make way for the new arena and curling rink. The name had not been used for the new centre, although it remains on a back exterior wall of the aquatic centre.

“I think it’s important that we recognize the folks from our history in our community that have helped build the community, and having a building with someone’s name on it and then removing it is something that I was never going to be in favour of,” said Dohey. “So I’m glad to see that, hopefully, this is something that can appease everyone. I know that’s difficult to do, but hopefully this is a way we can get that done.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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