The County of Grande Prairie has approved up to $38,000 in funding to help the Wembley and District Agricultural Society rent and install a cooling tower at the Source Energy Centre in Wembley.

The funding request came after the cooling tower the society ordered from the U.S. would not be delivered on time to make ice for the upcoming minor hockey season on November 1st, with snags in the supply chain caused by COVID-19 also making a revised delivery date a mystery.

Reeve Leanne Beaupre says councillors were happy to assist as needed, suggesting she knows the challenge the group of volunteers has faced getting the arena up and operational again following a 2020 fire.

“The plant that the Ag Society presently has is a little different than some of the newer plants, so they had limited options where they could order it from,” she says. We really do appreciate the volunteer group that is there and they had some challenges that they inherited from others, but they’ve worked hard and diligent for their kids and residents in Wembley to get back on the ice this year.”

The fire, which started in a shed behind the Wembley Arena, also caused smoke, water, and fire damage to the inside of the arena in June of last year. Beaupre says volunteer groups, like the Wembley and District AG Society, are the lifeblood that keep things turning in the region.

“So many of the facilities and programming that happens in rural areas are done by volunteer groups,” she says. “Without them, it would be a tremendous loss and a tremendous amount of expense to do the work that they do.”