(Community Works is a monthly column highlighting business involvement in community and charitable programs.)
For many kids, a game of hockey on an outdoor rink is as customary as a winter day that is full dark before supper.
And because almost any Albertan in December is at least a little cheered when the lights go on, ENMAX Corporation is doing what it can to light up the season. It begins on ice, where communities who flood and operate a lit, outdoor rink can apply for a rebate of a portion of the lighting costs. The Rinklighter Rebate Program makes a significant difference for communities pressed to provide recreational availability – often on a tight budget.
The Riverside Meadows Community Association was one of nine associations in Red Deer rebated last year.
Marleen Cowan, association president, says the rebate helped in many ways, including covering the cost of hiring people to work the concession and shelter when volunteers weren’t available.
“It’s like (ENMAX) being a volunteer. If it wasn’t for volunteers, nothing would happen.”
Since 1996, more than $125,000 has been rebated to Calgary – and now Red Deer – communities.
Edmonton rebates will be reflected in next year’s total.
Although this year’s application deadline has passed, ENMAX spokesperson Sneh Seetal promises a reminder campaign next fall.
“We believe this program is unique in Canada, and we’re pleased to involve as many communities as possible.”
Rinklighter Pond Hockey is a different way to light up a young person’s world. In this program, players from participating NHL and WHL teams demonstrate sportsmanship and skills though a game of shinny hockey with 10- to 12-year-old girls and boys at randomly drawn community rinks.
Even that experience may pale next to Zoolights. Zoolights combines the former light shows of Calgary Health Trust and Calgary Zoo for the largest seasonal light show in Calgary. Located at the Calgary Zoo from Dec. 6 to Jan. 4, Zoolights features about 200 festive scenes and more than two million lights.
Calgary Health Trust and Calgary Zoo will share proceeds to support health promotion and conservation programs.
“(As presenting sponsor) We thought this was a great opportunity to bring these two worthy organizations together,” Seetal explains
Alex Graham, president and CEO of the Calgary Zoo, said: “We are very much looking forward to building a relationship over the next five years, and together giving something of significance to the citizens of Calgary.”
With employees signing up as Zoolight host volunteers, even serving on the zoo’s board of trustees, ENMAX also supplies human power.
For almost 10 years, employees from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and their families help the Calgary Lion’s Club set up and tear down lights for the Lion’s Festival of Lights at Confederation Park. The employees donate their time; ENMAX provides trucks and equipment, and covers the cost of electricity.
“We do strive to build relationships with the community,” Seetal notes, “as well as maintain traditions that are important to our employees.”
For the kids heading to the local rink after school, or a family partaking in a little seasonal magic, it may not matter who turned the lights on or why . . . as long as they can enjoy a few hours of fun on a dark winter night. Upcoming:
* Lion’s Festival of Lights: to Jan. 8 at 14th Street and 24th Avenue N.W., Calgary
* Bright Nights: Hawrelak Park, Edmonton, now through early January.
* Candy Cane Lane: 148 Street Edmonton, Dec. 14 to Jan. 1.
(Karen Ritchie hosts the Community File on QR77 Radio. Send your corporate/community event to email@example.com)