After 12 years, Ray Lisk can see the finish line. A brand new Beeton Community Centre and a replacement for the old Beeton Memorial Arena is finally in view.

The new facility promises to not only be a huge source of pride for the small Simcoe town but, more importantly, help serve the needs of the entire community of New Tecumseth for years to come.

“We’ve had a number of fundraisers and raised a couple of hundred thousand dollars for supporting the Beeton Community Centre and we’re in the home stretch in trying to get that on the books in the town to determine what’s to go into the facility,” said Lisk, chair of the Fund for A New Community Centre in Beeton (FAB).

FAB, made up of 22 community leaders and representatives from various local stakeholder groups including Mayor Rick Milne and Councillor Richard Norcross, has already raised close to half of its $500,000 goal. The new Beeton Community Centre would include a multi-purpose floor/ice pad, change rooms, a community hall with kitchen and meeting rooms. Other proposed features would include a heated seating area, a fitness/wellness centre, walking track, concessions and a large lobby and greeting area.

Wanting the community to take part in the planning process, the Town of New Tecumseth put out an online survey earlier this year for local residents to provide feedback on what should be included. With those survey results in, Lisk believes it’s another big step closer to finally putting concrete proposals down in front of the newly elected council early next year.

“We feel like that this is a key time in the history of our project and the history of Beeton, and that we can expect in the fall to have the results of this $70,000 survey that will finalize what we’re going to have as options for the new council,” he explained. “And the new council, I think, will have it as a top priority to settle in the new year.”

The cost for the proposed project, says Lisk, will be $14M. The design would also connect the community centre to the library.

“We’ll just have to see what the town finds out in the survey they’re doing and what people want,” he added.

Replacing the 71-year-old Beeton Memorial Arena has been something Lisk has wanted since he suggested it to Milne some 12 years ago.

“He agreed and some other local community leaders we got talking and decided we would form a group called FAB and then we expanded the term to be a new multi-purpose community centre,” Lisk explained.

They started running fundraisers, including 11 golf tournaments at The Club at Bond Head. There were Yuk Yuk’s nights, dances in the old arena and New Year’s Eve skating parties. People stepped forward to donate money to the cause.

“It’s the heart of the community,” Lisk said. “Beeton is a growing community and we’re building this for the 6,800 people that are approved to the growth level of development, plus the surrounding area. It’s a community centre for the 10,000 people in and around Beeton that need something to serve all the needs of the community and bring pride and programs to meet all ages.”

The need is certainly there. The Beeton Memorial Arena is not sufficient for today’s needs, says Lisk.

“It’s had its day, so you don’t really want to put a lot of money into a 71-year-old building and never have what you really need,” he said. “We feel the majority of council know that it’s time to move forward.”

Lisk also believes it’s going to be a great boost to Beeton businesses. One of the pluses is that the town purchased three lots on the main street that would allow them to bring the centre right to main street and have that connection. This certainly would be a great boost for Beeton downtown stakeholders.”

Lisk and FAB members hear how much a new community centre would mean for local residents when they’re at community events or walking around town. From curling, hockey and figure skating to banquets, dances and arts and culture, the new facility will provide a place to bring the community together.

“We do hear from them,” he said. “The people are quite happy to see something finally coming together and there are some good timing possibilities of a federal grant program coming up in the new year that we hope that times out well for us.”

Photo: The 71-year-old Beeton Memorial has had its day, says Ray Lisk, chair of the Fund for A New Community Centre in Beeton. He believes his dream of having a new facility built that will serve the small town and surrounding community is in the stretch drive.

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