The Township of Wellington North and the local Lions Club are rethinking plans for the Brent Barnes Memorial Skatepark in Arthur after an anonymous donation revolutionized what’s possible there.
Wellington North councillor Lisa Hern fought back tears as she delivered the good news during Monday’s council meeting.
On Sept. 1, an anonymous donor came forward with a $100,000 cheque toward the park, she explained.
"I'm so thankful, I know our Lions are thankful... the kids are going to be so excited," Hern said.
While a final push of fundraising is still planned, the new money is "a game changer," she continued.
The Arthur Lions Club began fundraising for the park in 2019. With an initial goal of collecting approximately $200,000 to $250,000 by 2022, the organization figured it had given itself plenty of lead time. Then the pandemic hit and the food-based fundraisers, like barbeques and community dinners, the club relies on weren’t possible.
With only around $90,000 in the bank at the end summer 2021, the Lions decided to scale back their original vision for the park to meet their target of installing it for Arthur’s 150th birthday in 2022. Other components could be added in future phases.
Now, with the help of the anonymous benefactor, the Lions and the township are meeting again to determine next steps.
“(The donation) is going to make a world of difference between what we could have afforded three weeks ago and what we can now," Lions member Al Rawlins said in an interview.
He said Hern "made sure I was sitting down," when she called him with the good news.
“It’s still hard to fathom,” he said.
Asked if he had any clue about the donor’s identity or what might have motivated their generous gift, Rawlins said he didn’t know and respected their desire to remain anonymous.
“From the whole Lions Club, whoever this person was, we are clearly indebted to them and we are most thankful," Rawlin said. "It’s amazing."
Information about upcoming fundraisers for the skatepark can be found on the Arthur Lions Club Facebook page.