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Cumberland County shows its support for Oxford arena

Jordan Burkhardt of the Oxford arena committee accepts a $20,000 cheque from Cumberland County Mayor Murray Scott. Darrell Cole/Municipality of the County of Cumberland

From having its future threatened several years ago, Oxford’s arena is quickly becoming a viable community centre for the area.

 And the Municipality of Cumberland has shown it wants to be part of that. 

Mayor Murray Scott was in Oxford recently to present a cheque for $20,000 to Oxford Arena Committee member Jordan Burkhardt.

“This is a foundation for helping us to continue offering services to the whole area,” Burkhardt said. “The arena is always going to be an arena, but what we’re trying to do is to make the building more inclusive so we can do a lot more things. A lot more programs and a lot more usability for the entire community.”

Burkhardt’s committee assumed responsibility for the arena at what was a very tough time in the community. Facing pressures related to the costs of operating the facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, Oxford’s town council originally opted to keep the arena closed for the 2020-21 winter season.

During the 2020 municipal election, the town’s mayor, Greg Henley, pledged to do what he could to reopen the facility and council there immediately went to work with the citizen’s committee to try to reopen the arena – something it was able to accomplish through a memorandum of understanding in early 2021.

The arena operated through a second year of COVID-19 last winter and now that the province is coming out the other end of the pandemic’s restrictions, Burkhard is hoping to see the facility thrive. The past few months have seen a beehive of activity at the arena, including redoing the entrance area and creating a community room on the second floor where public events and receptions can be held.

“It’s an old building that needed a lot of work. We’ve made progress, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Burkhardt said. “We want to make this as efficient an operation as possible. When we do something we aim to do something more than patchwork. We want it to have a long-term future.”

Work has also continued on the dressing rooms, the bathrooms and the canteen, including new equipment. A new ticket booth has also been constructed allowing for easier access.

“We want people to walk through here and take pride in what we have in this community,” Burkhardt said. “We are centrally located in the county and there are a lot of individuals and groups who are using this building that are from across the whole county.”

Burkhardt said a lot of volunteers have put in a lot of hard work to give the arena a new lease on life and he credits Oxford and the Municipality of Cumberland for helping make their vision become reality.

“The community as a whole has bought in and supported it. We’re very happy with it,” he said. “And when I say community, I say Cumberland County.”

The mayor congratulated Burkhardt and the community committee for stepping up and giving new life to the arena.

“Whether it’s Oxford, Amherst or any other part of Cumberland County we have to support each other,” Scott said. “We’re all neighbours and our council is pleased to able to support the committee.”

Scott said the arena is so important to the Oxford area as the host of the Cumberland County Exhibition, which is returning after a two-year COVID break.

The mayor said he and council are happy to hear what’s planned for the facility and says the work taking place there will benefit the entire county.

“It’s in the Town of Oxford, but it supports every one of us,” Mayor Scott said.