By Richard Bell
The provincial government’s grant of $608,500 to Lake Echo’s Orenda Canoe Club (OCC) is a ringing endorsement of the club’s success at turning a non-profit volunteer-run, community-based organization into a regional athletic powerhouse that has produced 5 Olympians.
“We’ve been circulating this grant proposal for three years,” OCC board member Scott Reinhardt told the Cooperator. And although the grant comes from the provincial Ministry of Communities, Culture and Heritage, Reinhardt was careful to point out that club members had worked tirelessly to “get some traction from all three levels of government.”
In its original proposal, OCC asked for $800,000, but Reinhardt said that the board was confident that “we can still achieve all of the goals we want to. We might have to do some budget cutbacks on certain equipment, but we can still achieve the major goals. And we’re still hopeful for more federal funding.”
The grant will pay for roughly doubling the footprint of the club’s facilities. “We’re going to improve accessibility, expand the weight room, and put in more boat bays and boat storage,” Reinhardt said. “And by adding a second story with a commercial kitchen, we’ll be able to generate revenue from renting out banquet space.”
OCC’s impressive roster of Olympians played an important role in winning the new grant. “Based on the best research I can do,” Reinhardt said, “we’re tied with any of the larger clubs in metro HRM on the quality of the athletes from our program. But at the end of the day, looking back at what our Olympians and others have achieved, it’s really a community effort. And we’ve got a really strong board, and that helps us reassure the politicians we work with that they can have confidence that we can manage the money.”
Among the politicians who attended the announcement ceremony were MLA and Minister of Fisheries and Aquiculture Keith Colwell, MLA Kevin Murphy, Halifax City Councillor David Hendsbee, and the Honourable Darrell Samson, MP for Sackville, Preston, and Chezzetcook. (Hendsbee and Samson combined last year to help OCC win a $30,000 grant to upgrade the heating system.)
Colwell, appearing on behalf of Tony Ince, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage (CCH), said in a statement, "Sport and recreation facilities are vital to keeping our communities strong and vibrant, Government is proud to invest in facilities like Orenda Canoe Club, which give Nova Scotians opportunities to maintain social connections and lead healthy lifestyles." Investing in community organizations and providing greater access to recreation are part of CCH’s new “Culture Action Plan,” unveiled in February, 2017.
The Club’s website is at http://www.orendacanoeclub.ca. There are one- and two-month summer programs for kids (July and August).