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Melville Communiplex

The project is big and so is the anticipation in Melville.

Residents of Melville and area are excited about the new arena and convention centre that is currently under construction.

"We've been working on this project over the last decade, maybe longer than that, trying to get it here," City Manager Michael Hotsko said. "The fact that you can actually see the skeleton up there already, it's pretty exciting for the people of Melville."

The Melville Communiplex should be open February of 2011. The $24.5 million facility will boast a 1,500-seat ice arena that will serve as the new home of the Melville Millionaires.

But the facility will be more than just a hockey rink. It will also include a convention centre, a fitness centre and a cardiac care centre, and is expected to be used year-round to play host to concerts, conventions, trade shows, art exhibitions and other community events.

According to Mayor Walter Streelasky, so many people passing by the construction site were slowing down to watch, it was creating a bit of a traffic hazard. So they came up with a solution that would allow the people to keep an eye on the project's progress.

"We set up a viewing gallery," Streelasky said.

Curious onlookers can park in an empty lot and watch the construction to their heart's content.

Mayor Streelasky says there are a lot of people interested.

"We look at it as a gathering point for the citizens of Melville, but also for surrounding communities," he said. "We had a total of 29 different municipalities support us and we want them to be a part of our community and take part in the various events that we have. It's not just ours, it's theirs."

The Communiplex will replace the 60-plus-year-old Melville Stadium, which was getting increasingly expensive to keep operational. A few years ago, according to Hotsko, the city had to spend nearly $750,000 making structural repairs to the roof.

"It's getting to a point where we just don't want to dump any more money into that building," Hotsko said. "It's time for a new facility."

The mayor is pleased with the way that the community has embraced the Communiplex project, noting that all kinds of groups, from teams to seniors groups to the local church-run thrift shop are contributing to fundraising efforts.

"It gives them a sense of ownership," Streelasky said.

But community fundraising only goes so far. Grants from the federal and provincial government will cover $20 million of the costs of construction.

Under the Building Canada program, Melville will receive $16.37 million split equally between the province and the federal government. Another $3.7 million will come from the Government of Saskatchewan's Building Communities Program.

"It was crucial for us to get that funding," Hotsko said. "We couldn't be happier that we had this funding come in. That building would not have happened now if we did not have this funding come in."

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