Doug Barnes Cabin is officially expanding its facility.
Around 30 people came out on Friday to see the groundbreaking for the building’s new extension.
The project has been in the works for three years after the municipality got a grant from the federal and provincial governments, however, it was delayed due to the Horse River wildfire. The final cost is $3.3 million.
President of the Ptarmigan Nordic Ski Club Chris Reitz says this will help them attract more members.
“There’s intent to go to schools, get school groups in, tourism opportunities – there are some groups who say if we come to town can we make use of the trails and equipment but we just don’t have the facility to accommodate a large group of people.”
At their peak, the Ski Club reached 450 members. Nowadays, they’re hovering around 300 with the hope being the extension will increase their numbers.
Reitz says this will also help with sports development.
“A big part is hosting other clubs and events to get athletes from other areas – so the ability to get multi-sport events.”
He notes Olympian Graeme Killick, who grew up in Fort McMurray, had to leave when he was 15 to continue his training because of the lack of facilities.
“We could have another Graeme Killick among us,” added Councillor Phil Meagher.
Meagher, who is a member of the Ski Club, says they’re also looking at possibly hiring staff.
“People who want to take up cross-country skiing, right now, they have to call [the club], we would have to come up, open things up, lend skis – so it’s a bit of a mess.”
The hope is to have the expansion finished by the end of the year, coinciding with the start of the next ski season.