Although Wetaskiwin’s Manluk Centre Wetaskiwin Regional Aquatics & Fitness has been in operation since June 26th of this year, final touches such as the Donor Wall had to be completed. With great anticipation and careful planning, the big day arrived on Saturday, September 13.
On a sunny and warm fall morning, hundreds of happy guests, families and regional VIPs gathered at the Manluk Centre’s Grand Opening festivities. Face painting, interesting ATCO Gas and Co-op exhibits hosted by congenial team members, a large table laden with fruits and vegetables dishes replenished by volunteers of the Wetaskiwin Olympian Swim Club and The Orcas, and inside, a lively remote by CAM-FM’s Lucas Banak, “the People’s DJ,” the day promised a lot of fun, and… it delivered!
Joining the County of Wetaskiwin as a ‘founder’ sponsor, MANLUK Global Manufacturing Solutions (also named Manluk Industries) committed to their large sponsorship in May 2013, receiving the naming rights for this new 44,846 ft2 facility. Manluk is a well-established employer of 200 and industrial leader based in the City of Wetaskiwin. Manluk’s owner, Frank Luebke, was joined on stage by his wife and their two teens, sharing that the Manluk Management Team is thrilled with the new center that will cater to not only its families, but to the young and the elderly, and all those in between, in this region.
A tour was offered by the Aquatics Centre manager, Leah Fraser, also a Coach for both the Wetaskiwin Olympians and Orcas swim clubs. She described the Co-op Competition Pool (a six-lane, twenty five metre pool), the Board Rider and the popular Lazy River (a low-current body of water, 1.3 meter-deep (52 inches) that winds around a circular jet pool, ideal for people needing a low-impact water injury rehab and seniors who enjoy the benefits of water without the stress of a deep or crowded pool). The Board Rider is a new technology, the first one in Canada It creates a crazy wave to invite brave souls to attempt riding it, eventually ‘landing’ in a shallow area surrounded by a safe rubber lining. This feature alone is attracting water-loving thrill-seekers from far and wide.
The Wetaskiwin Co-op Competition Pool was named after the Co-op that has been a vital part of the Wetaskiwin community for 97 years. Co-op General Manager Allan Halter shared that, “Co-op is happy to give back to all of you who have supported us through the years.”
Wetaskiwin City Mayor Bill Elliott and County Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers shared their enthusiasm in seeing this venture reach its completion thanks to their, “wonderful partnership” to benefit their joined residents, and not to forget the generosity of residents and commercial sponsors.
Wetaskiwin’s MP Blaine Calkins enthusiastically shared that a facility of this stature, “attracts people, business and new residents to this community, and improves quality of life.” Mayor Elliott discreetly shared his pride as in his own family, his daughter-in-law, Candice Elliott, a Sacred Heart school teacher, is a swim coach and his two grand-sons are competitive swimmers who will enjoy the pool to the max.
A trio of smiling young men chatted with this reporter about their plans to attend the Manluk Centre, especially the Aquatic Centre, regularly. Seamus McQuarrie candidly shared that his parents had bought a yearly family pass. With his brother Connor and buddy Seth, Seamus had fun visiting with the three fun mascots in attendance; Wally the Water Tower, Buddy the Lifeguard Dog and Buckles the PFD (Personal Floatation Device). Along with Josh Lucas, a Wetaskiwin high school student and lifeguard, they also posed for some photos.
Courtney Heron, fitness trainer and dynamic manager of the spacious Flaman Fitness Centre, proudly showed off its new and gleaming fitness equipment. She shared that the Fitness Centre is planning Yoga classes, Spin (Cycle) classes and Boot Camps. Interestingly, this young lady who also works in Graphic Arts for the City admits that she has made Wetaskiwin her home after a short holiday here. “I really liked it here, and didn’t want to leave.”
Kevin Lucas, fun ceremony MC and City Manager of Community Services, presented a large bouquet and a plaque to the lovely Elaine Brackenbury, a Wetaskiwin native and daughter of Elie Aboussafy, whose large contribution helped the Aboussafy Centre become a reality, 30 years ago. “Passing the torch” of recreation and fitness to the Manluk Centre was witnessed by an enthusiastic crowd.
A huge cake made of cupcakes and a thick icing was the fun conclusion of an epic day.
The Manluk Centre also encompasses several meeting/party rooms, and will no doubt become a central and vital hub of this vibrant community and region. Residents from all around the region are invited to visit and enjoy the many recreational and fitness options within the centre.
Pictured: Three fun mascots pose with lifeguard Josh Lucas and swimmer Sean McQuarrie. Photo by Dominique Vrolyk