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Skating, curling rink grant restarting in Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government says it's bringing back a grant that may be used to offset the cost of rink operations or to outfit a facility with coronavirus-related expenditures. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A program that provides funding to Saskatchewan’s community-owned indoor skating and curling rinks is returning after a hiatus.

The Community Rink Affordability Grant (CRAG) was suspended after being offered from 2012 to 2016.

Read more: Outdoor rink aims to get Kipling, Sask. residents skating through Christmas season

In the Nov. 30 throne speech, the provincial government said it would be reinstating the grant, as promised by the Saskatchewan Party in its successful 29th general election campaign.

Starting Dec. 14, CRAG will officially open again to provide funding to offset the cost of rink operations, complete minor capital upgrades or outfit facilities with coronavirus-related expenditures.

“We are ensuring that when rinks and the activities held at them are safely re-opened, they can continue to support the health and wellness of communities and contribute to local resident’s quality of life,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Laura Ross said Tuesday in a press release.

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Read more: City of Saskatoon recommending community hockey rinks remove nets

A maximum of $2,500 will be available per ice surface for the 2020-21 operating season, officials said.

The Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association (SPRA) administers and delivers the program.

“We are grateful to the government of Saskatchewan for recognizing the escalating costs communities are facing in order to operate and maintain their rinks,” SPRA president TJ Biemans said in a statement.

“These facilities are integral to the vitality and wellbeing of our communities, with this funding coming at a time when that has never been more necessary.”

Government officials expect more than 600 ice surfaces in nearly 400 communities will be eligible for the grant. They added that First Nations, schools and non-profits are all eligible and encouraged to register.

The deadline for applications is March 12, 2021.

Click to play video 'Outdoor rink, complete with leisurely skating trail, pops up on Wascana Creek' Outdoor rink, complete with leisurely skating trail, pops up on Wascana Creek
Outdoor rink, complete with leisurely skating trail, pops up on Wascana Creek – Dec 6, 2020