Metro/Bernice Pontanilla Tom Thompson, president of the East Winnipeg Sports Association, and his group’s members cannot wait to see a new skating rink on the pond behind him.

Money set aside for an unsuccessful water park will soon flow to community projects across the city, including a new outdoor skating rink in east Winnipeg.

On Monday, Mayor Sam Katz and Coun. Russ Wyatt announced $200,000 for Transcona’s Buhler Recreation Park, this money coming from a $3.8 million investment fund for recreation and leisure.

Facility manager Steve Mymko said the winter upgrades to the park, located just off Dugald Road, completes the vision he and fellow members of the group had years ago of making Buhler Park a year-round facility.

“It’s very exciting,” he added. “We’re just hoping that the people of the community will embrace it as they’ve embraced the summer activities.”

Tom Thompson, president of the East Winnipeg Sports Association, said the park will provide some of the amenities that Assiniboine Park does for citizens on the west side of the city.

“We can’t match the size of that park over there and its history, but we got something going here and the fact that we have a community group running it, we’re proud of that and having the city backing us up all the time, that’s is even better,” said Thompson.

“This is sweet. To think that we’re going to have a full year-round park now, with skating and the grooming of ski trails, we’re looking to the start of this and really, employ some people in the wintertime as well to the extent we do in the summer.”

The upgrades, which facility officials hope to complete by next winter, include developing the pond area into a skating rink, with lighting, benches, landscaping and a pond entrance feature; enclosing the canteen with doors and creating a warm-up space there; and enhancing the trail system to accommodate cross-country skiing.

The park has a pump house that will be able to re-flood the rink when they need to, added Wyatt.

Originally, $7 million was set aside as an incentive for a water park at The Forks, however, those plans fell through last summer and $3.2 million was directed to rebuilding the East Elmwood Community Centre, which burnt down in 2011.

The 2013 Preliminary Capital Budget, tabled earlier this month, allocates $271,428 for each of 14 wards to invest in recreation and leisure.

Wyatt said he plans to use the rest of the cash for Transcona towards playground improvements.

Katz said Winnipeg’s infrastructure deficit includes not just roads, but also things like libraries and community centres.

“I think we all know the value of recreational facilities,” he said.

“There’s no question that we need money going into our parks and our wading pools, and building more spray pads and trails, etc.”

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