The sounds of summer

Rudy Norman
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Burlington enjoys new recreation area with the return of a favorite pastime

The sounds of feet running up the asphalt and sticks knocking together in a battle for the small orange ball used to be common in Burlington.
The community’s outdoor rink was a staple, located in the middle of town, where winter saw its annual flooding for skating and ice hockey and, after a paving project in 1996, summer saw leagues for youth and adults alike in recreational ball hockey competitions.

“It was something everyone enjoyed – if you didn’t play, usually you were there to watch,” said Nelson Matthews, chairperson of the Burlington Recreation Committee. However, Matthews said, as the years went by, those days seemed to fade away.

“I guess it was like anything – people got older and other people moved away, and the interest just wasn’t there anymore,” he said. “Most young people in recent years have been caught up with other things, and if something isn’t being used, then it just starts to deteriorate.”

That’s what happened to Burlington’s rink.

After years of inactivity and a lack of maintenance, it eventually rotted and decayed past the point of repair, Matthews said it seemed like the days of recreation and hockey were gone.

However, a few years ago, the town and the recreation committee had a dream of bringing it back.

“We knew there was going to be a lot of work involved, but we felt we needed to have something,” said Matthews. “Young people, and older people too, for that matter, need to stay active and they need to have a place and an opportunity to do that.”

The recreation committee worked with the town to develop a plan for a new recreational area in the place the old rink lay in disarray.

Through a series of programs and government assistance, the old rink was torn down, removed, and a new fenced area was constructed in its place.

However, the task was not finished.

“Now all we had was a fenced in area with a gravel floor,” explained Matthews. “That wasn’t much good to play hockey or anything on, so we had to keep going.”

In the process, the committee was also able to construct a new playground to complement the incomplete recreation area. However, the desire for an asphalt floor was still a priority.

“It was going to cost us over $25,000 to do the pavement, and there was no way we could do that ourselves.”

Matthews said they applied for assistance from the provincial government and after several attempts, $15,000 in funding was finally secured. That helped greatly, however there was still a ways to go.

This was when the community stepped up.

Matthews said it was natural for everyone to come together to help get them to where they needed to be.

“We had people from the town come on and help out with donations, and other organizations contributed as well,” said Matthews.

The Town Council, local CAP Site program, and funds raised through the town’s Come Home Year Celebrations all went towards the recreation goal and their own contribution.

The day the pavement was laid was a good one, said Matthews, but not as good as earlier this week when the sounds of summer could be heard again.

“It’s great to go up the road and see people down there in that area again, running around, playing hockey, and being active,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about – that’s what summer is all about, and it’s great we can get back to that.

Organizations: Burlington Recreation Committee, Town Council

Geographic location: Burlington

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