Happy birthday, Archie

Fifty candles on the cake for Archie Browning sports centre

Esquimalt’s Archie Browning Sports Centre turns 50 years old today (June 29), a milestone for the arena and curling rink that was saved from permanent closure just a few years ago.

“It holds a regional significance as well as a community significance,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins of the facility built in 1960 and opened on June 29, 1961.

The community nearly lost the sports centre when council of the day decided in 2007 to close it for good due to the enormous expense required to renovate the facility, which was already subsidized by taxpayers.

Hundreds of residents rallied to fight the decision.

Their efforts worked, and the centre underwent a nearly $2-million renovation project over the past year, which has included a new roof, among a host of other upgrades. That project is largely completed though some minor work is still being done.

The centre’s birthday party this morning was a small affair with a plaque unveiling, but a larger community birthday bash is in the works.

“We’re going to have a bigger do in the fall, and the reason we did it that way is you can’t find your ice users at this time of year,” said Desjardins. “So we wanted to make sure that we included them in the celebrations.”

emccracken@vicnews.com