Sports lending library coming to Garcelon Civic Center

Facebook photo The Garcelon Civic Center.

ST. STEPHEN – The Garcelon Civic Center is opening a sports lending library on May 15.

Kev Sumner, director of Community Services with the Municipal District of St. Stephen, said this program will make hockey equipment available.

“I’ve seen them in a number of communities around the country and around the world as well,” he said. “They are, in theory, meant to help people, families, kids, whoever wants to use them, gain access to equipment they might not ordinarily have access to. It’s something we, as a municipality, wanted to encourage and they are opportunities that people can try before they buy, so to speak, whether they’re new to Canada, they’re new Canadians, or new to Charlotte County, they have an opportunity to skate and they don’t have the equipment.”

Sumner said the program takes advantage of the fact that ice stays in the civic centre most of the year.

The Community Foundations of Canada approved the municipality for $2,400 for the program, Sumner noted.

Staff at the civic centre reached out to a number of groups to access more equipment, said Sumner, who confirmed they received donations from Milltown Elementary School and the Boys and Girls Club of Charlotte County, and they’ve reached out to local businesses like Canadian Tire.

“We have skates, we have helmets, and in the future, potentially, there’s opportunities for outdoor equipment, whether it’s soccer balls, baseball bats, footballs,” he said. “The only thing we’re limited to is how much we can get, how much storage because we have to keep a place for them.”

Sumner said they are seeking donations from those with equipment they no longer use.

“If there’s an opportunity that families, if they’ve had kids that have grown out of equipment, or the kids have moved on and they want to pass it on and it’s in good condition, that’s something that we’ll certainly look at,” he said. “There probably will be some equipment that doesn’t come back in one piece but that’s when we could ask for additional equipment.”

To have the program accessible to as many people as possible, Sumner said they are looking for a wide variety of equipment.

“We want to make sure there’s all kinds of shoe sizes and skate sizes that are covered,” he said. “We want to have access for everyone that wants to use it.”

Sumner said they are hoping the program will result in more people using the facility and more getting active. To find out more about the facility, he asked the public to check out the municipal website or social media pages.

“We’re trying to create a facility that’s catered for as many people as we can. We do have very reasonable skate times. When there’s a statutory holiday, we have public skates that are free as well,” he said. “It’s all encompassing in trying to get people off the couches, and get them skating using our facility, whether it’s the swimming pool, or if they need equipment to come and try, try before they buy, it’s an option for them to do.”

Sumner said they are working out details like the length of the lending period.

“It’s easier for us to manage as well if we have scheduled hours. We don’t always have the staff to be open, especially during the summer, which is a little quieter here at the civic centre. If we have scheduled hours they can have the equipment for several days, if not a week,” he stated. “We ensure it’s in working order and safe and they can have it for however long they need it and there’s no urgency that they have to get this done in an hour or two rentals. They can do it when the time works for their schedule.”

As long as the equipment is available, Sumner said the program will continue.

Noting that this hasn’t been done before in the community, Sumner said the municipality is proud to provide this program.

“We would like it to be there forever and be something which other communities look at and be an opportunity to learn from and copy,” he added. “There’s lots of positives behind this. It’s good for the community, it’s good for people who can’t afford equipment. It helps people get active, and hopefully stay active and come in and use the facility that we’re very proud of.”