May 21st, 2024

New grant program geared to sport and recreation facilities


By Lethbridge Herald on May 3, 2024.

Joseph Schow, minister of tourism and sport, kicks a soccer ball, along with Lethbridge East MLA Nathan Neudorf and a group of young soccer players on Friday at the Servus Sports Centre. Schow and Neudorf were at the centre to introduce a new funding initiative for sport and recreation facilities. Herald photo by Delon Shurtz

Delon Shurtz – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

At a towering six-foot something, Tourism and Sport Minister Joseph Schow stands out in a crowd. Put him in a dark suit with loud and brightly coloured sneakers, and he sticks out like a sore thumb.

But maybe that was the point during a media gathering in Lethbridge Friday. Schow’s sneakers made one statement – he was ready to kick some soccer balls, which he did, – while his comparatively muted suit said he had something important to say.

“It is my pleasure today, to launch our new Active Communities Initiative,” Schow said. “Through Budget 2024, Alberta’s government is investing $30 million to build or enhance sport and recreation facilities that inspire, connect and enrich the lives of all Albertans.”

Schow, along with Nathan Neudorf, Lethbridge East MLA and minister of affordability and utilities; Chris Witkowski, board member of the Alberta Sport Leadership Association; and Susan Eymann, executive director of Lethbridge Sport Council, made the announcement at the Servus Sports Centre where, fittingly, a small group of soccer players kicked a ball in the background.

“I know how important access to sport is, and sport recreation facilities for kids growing up,” Schow said. 

“It teaches teamwork, it build’s confidence and promotes healthy lifestyles that last well into adulthood. But the benefits of being active don’t just stop when you’re a kid. It’s proven that at every stage of life, being active positively impacts physical, social and emotional wellbeing.”

Schow pointed out that he grew up in a rural community in Ontario, and had to drive 30 minutes to a recreational facility to play basketball.

“How much better of a player could I have been if something was just closer to home?”

Neudorf explained the initiative is open to eligible community groups, non-profit organizations and societies, as well as First Nations and Metis settlements who want to build or enhance spaces that support sport and recreation in their communities. The grant is intended for small and mid-sized projects, including indoor and outdoor skating rinks, community pools, indoor turf centres, pickle ball courts and other sport and recreation facilities.

“These investments are more than just building and enhancing sport and recreation facilities,” Neudorf said. 

“They are an investment in our health, our communities, our economy and our future. I look forward to seeing how this new initiative drives activity, and enhances our communities in every corner of our province.”

The initiative is the first grant program to focus exclusively on funding sport and recreation infrastructure. Beginning this month, eligible organizations can submit an expression of interest before submitting a more detailed package during the second round of applications.

The initiative is a fund-matching program and has two streams for prospective projects. Stream one funds projects from a minimum of $100,000 to a maximum of $500,000, while stream two funds projects from a minimum of $500,001 to a maximum of $1.5 million. Larger-scale sport and recreation infrastructure projects will continue to be funded through the government’s Capital Plan.

“We were thrilled to hear that the government of Alberta would be introducing the Active Communities Initiative,” Eymann said. 

“Sport and recreation are essential to the health and wellbeing of all Albertans, and communities need dedicated spaces for these activities, which is exactly what this initiative will help achieve.

Eymann said the Sport Council’s vision is for Lethbridge to be an inclusive and accessible sport community where individuals and families can connect with others and feel part of the community, and where everyone has the opportunity to participate in organized sports.

“The Active Communities Initiative is a much-needed step towards ensuring that everyone who wants to, can participate in sport and recreation activities. This initiative will help build happier, healthier communities.”

Groups interested learning more about the Active Communities Initiative, including guidelines, how to apply and who to contact for additional questions, can go online to https://www.alberta.ca/active-communities-initiative.

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[…] Dillon Shortz – Lethbridge Herald – dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com […]

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