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Nanaimo boathouse project earns community grant

The Nanaimo Community Boathouse is in the running to win a major funding boost.

A boathouse project at Nanaimo’s Loudon Park is the only B.C. initiative to win a top spot in this year’s Kraft Celebration Tour – a national funding contest aimed at improving places to play.

The win, announced by Kraft Canada this week, will see TSN do a live broadcast of SportsCentre in Nanaimo this August. Those behind the boathouse – the Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club and Nanaimo Rowing Club –  will also receive $25,000 for landing in the Top 10 and a total $100,000 if they are the top vote earners in a two-day online race in late July.

It’s exciting news for Joyce Mark, commodore of the canoe and kayak club.

The clubs have dreamt of a new building for the past two decades. The current facility, a former washroom and picnic area built about 30 years ago, hosts more than 1,500 people each year and is “falling apart,” according to Mark. The club’s boats are also stored in a caged area that’s open to the elements and causes the crafts to deteriorate prematurely.

The City of Nanaimo has offered $300,000 toward construction of a new $900,000 boathouse, but the organizations have to raise the rest. So far they’ve generated $20,000.

“This [prize] money is big for us. It is 100-plus beer and burgers that would take countless hours and years of organization and manpower,” Mark said in an e-mail to the News Bulletin. “It would mean that we are getting closer to our goal to provide the future public a place to paddle and row at a low cost.”

The new Loudon Park boathouse would offer public washrooms, training space and boat storage, as well as a potential meeting room. It would be built at an existing playground, leading to the creation of a new play area for children.

Kelly Fleming, brand manager for Kraft Canada, said Nanaimo was chosen from among 500 entries because of the impact of the boathouse, benefit of the prize money and community passion, spirit and pride. For making it this far, Nanaimo will get a community barbecue and an hour-long live broadcast by TSN’s SportsCentre Aug. 16. It also has the chance to win the grand prize if it collects the most votes July 21-22. To cast a vote, please go to www.kraftcelebrationtour.ca.

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