By Laura Keil and Grace Althouse

After two winters with no curling, the Valemount Curling Club will be back on the ice after receiving the last portion of money needed to replace their defunct ice plant.

The club received $107,523 from Northern Development Initiative Trust which, combined with roughly the same amount from the CBT’s Community Initiatives grant program last year, will cover the lion’s share of the replacement.

Curling Club member Diana Piper, who wrote the grant application, said they look forward to reopening as early as this fall. Before they shut down, there were roughly 30 curlers in the junior (youth) program alone, in addition to the adult league and the high school PE classes.

“We’re super excited,” she said.

The new ice plant will be up to current environmental standards, unlike the old freon plant.

“You couldn’t even buy the seals anymore, it was so old,” she said.

Without this money, Piper said there’s no way they could have re-opened.

“It’s a huge amount of money—$225,750. How do you fundraise when you don’t have something to offer?”

When the curling club realized the ice plant needed replacing, they had a choice: let it go or keep fighting. The curling club building belongs to the club and is located on Village of Valemount-owned land. The club was unsuccessful in a referendum to have it tax-funded through the Regional District, but club members didn’t give up.

“It’s something I couldn’t let go, to be honest,” Piper said. ”I grew up in it, I grew up in the club, and I see the benefits of it for the community.”

She said part of what she’s grown to love is how inclusive it is—it doesn’t cost a lot of money to participate. And it’s the kind of sport you can learn at any age. She recalled a winter festival several years ago: “There were so many people that had never even tried (curling). It was really neat to see new people trying new things. It’s also one of the only sports left that you can all do as a family.”

Piper said the club will continue to rent the basement to the V-crew youth centre.