(Fort Chipewyan, September 20, 2013) - A new era of community recreation in Fort Chipewyan got underway on Friday as the beginning of construction at the Archie Simpson Arena Aquatic Expansion was signaled by an official groundbreaking ceremony at the project site.

"This project is part of Council’s commitment to build complete and livable communities by enhancing access to recreation in all parts of the region," said Mayor Melissa Blake. "This aquatic expansion will provide a wonderful gathering place for community activity and is an example of the great things that happen when we work together."

Community members were joined at Friday's ceremony by Mayor Blake and Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) Councillors Blair and Flett alongside fellow Councillors Christine Burton, Phil Meagher and Russell Thomas and representatives from the RMWB and the Regional Recreation Corporation (RRC).

The facility, which includes a 25 metre pool, waterslide, waterpark, whirlpool, sauna, and indoor link to the existing Archie Simpson Arena, is set to begin construction under the direction of the RMWB Engineering Department and Capital Projects Branch. The IBI Group is the architectural firm that designed the Archie Simpson Arena Aquatic Expansion, while EllisDon is construction manager for the project.

The RRC, created by RMWB Council in October 2012 and recently incorporated under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, will commission and operate the Archie Simpson Arena Aquatic Expansion when it opens in 2015.

"In collaboration with the RMWB and the Fort Chipewyan community, we're thrilled to do our part in expanding exceptional recreation and community-building opportunities and experiences across the Wood Buffalo region, and today's groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future Archie Simpson Arena Aquatic Expansion is a great first step," said Mike Cachia, Chair of the RRC Board of Directors. "We look forward to standing alongside the Fort Chipewyan community as the facility takes shape in the months and years ahead."