Batchewana First Nation has reduced the operational costs of its sports complex thanks to a FedNor investment of $100,000. The funding was provided through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program to commemorate the country's 150th anniversary of Confederation. Specifically, it assisted with the replacement of the Rankin Arena's refrigeration unit, as well as the conversion to light emitting diode (LED) lighting.
The facility, which is located in the east end of Sault Ste. Marie, is used throughout the year by its First Nation members and neighbouring municipal residents to host cultural and sporting events. Chief Dean Sayers of the Batchewana Band says the upgrades are a part of the community's investment strategy.
"Since the renovations were completed in the fall of 2016, this investment will enable us to attract more tournaments, concerts and cultural events, and the increased business will bring more money into the community and help offset the operational costs of the Rankin Arena," explained Sayers.
According to Arena and Events Manager Kris Bain, the improvements have reduced energy consumption and have created a brighter atmosphere. Bain noted that Rankin Area has benefitted from a rate reduction in its electricity consumption.
"When I'm looking at the utility bills, I am seeing anywhere between 40 to 50 percent savings in electricity consumption depending on the time of year given that our usage climbs in the late fall and winter months," revealed Bain.
In addition to an element of pride in going green, Bain says Batchewana First Nation is pleased to see the positive impact that the upgrades have had on the arena's operation.
"The functionality of the LED lighting is great for events," added Bain. "I am able to turn lights on and off on demand and we're not replacing light bulbs all the time. The old high pressure sodium bulbs retailed for approximately $60 apiece and lasted up to 20,000 hours. Meanwhile, a LED diode strip costs $25 hours and is good for 50,000 hours."
With the renovations complete, Bain says the facility is operating a lot more efficiently in terms of ice creation. With new lighting also extended to the arena's banquet hall, Bain has noted there has been a corresponding jump in the number of bookings.
"Over the last fiscal year, we've seen an increase of 50 percent in traffic. It brings in a variety of dollars from catered and licensed events, all of which helps to support the entire facility," explained Bain.