Virden area now without recreation director

Virden and the surrounding communities say goodbye to Prairie West Recreation.

Virden and the surrounding communities say goodbye to Prairie West Recreation (PWR). Laurel Lamb, the face of PWR for over 15 years, found out on Monday, September 13 that her position at Prairie West Recreation (PWR) had been dissolved and her office closed. The job she loved, the role she invested in body and soul, was suddenly over.

Lamb reflects on his role: “My motto was to offer programs in big cities to people in small towns. I never had enough time to give it all away.

Originally, PWR received broad support. This included the municipalities of Wallace, Woodworth, Ellice, Sifton and the towns of Virden and Oak Lake, the village of Elkhorn and the school division of Fort La Bosse.

However, since the municipal mergers in 2015, support for the recreation district has been reduced to two entities, the Town of Virden and the RM of Wallace-Woodworth. As such, PWR has continued to serve many of the same people, with the exception of the Oak Lake / Sifton area and the Ellice-Archie area, which are no longer part of the district.

PWR, run by a board of directors, included some members of the two boards currently chaired by Diana Mac-Donald representing the RM of Wallace-Woodworth.

In an email interview, MacDonald for the board said restructuring options had been on the table for some time and had been discussed in the 2018 and then 2020 deal renewals.

“Unfortunately, there has been a trend in Westman where recreation districts are being restructured and in some cases dissolved,” the board responded. “The councils of the town of Virden and the RM of Wallace-Woodworth have decided to dissolve [PWR] as of December 31, 2021.

The PWR (Instructor and Paid Site) programs and Lamb’s 35 Hours Weekly were funded by per capita contributions from the Town of Virden and the RM of Wallace-Woodworth and program registrations.

In 2021, $ 20,216 came from the RM of Wallace-Woodworth and $ 29,864 from the Town of Virden.


Laurel Lamb has launched a multitude of programs over the years. The registration night was held every fall, offering multiple opportunities under one roof for parents to register their families for activities. This was recently expanded to include a spring recording as well.

PWR has provided organizational advice to Youth Soccer, Westman Rec Hockey, Southwest Judo and Virden Gymnastics.

Many sports programs continue today. Lamb saw benefits beyond actual sports activities which provided opportunities to socialize and grow as people.

With a big smile, she remembers how much fun it was, for two years in a row, to host the British Soccer Camp. Several British student footballers have come to Virden to teach Youth Soccer. They stayed with Lamb and his family. The family of Sandra Langlois, member of the board of directors of PWR, also welcomed them for a year.

“You create lasting friendships and relationships,” she said. “When my son and I went on a school trip to Europe in 2016, an English football coach actually bought us tickets to the musical Wicked, and we were able to go see him with him and catch up with him. So it was really, really cool.

Lamb has orchestrated three health exhibitions at Tundra Oil & Gas Place. These have attracted dozens of vendors, presenters, and customers from a wide field.

In cooperation with Mid-West Recreation de Hamiota, PWR hosted the Follow the Sun Off the Grid Yoga Festival in Eternal Springs.

Music in the Park was originally a group effort of PWR, SAIL, and Arts Mosaic; although this year PWR only dealt with the short season.

Of his many efforts, Lamb says, “Dance lessons were probably my favorite because it doesn’t just end with the lesson, it’s a life skill, socializing.” She says dancing contributes to mental and physical health. “I couldn’t have done it without the facilities at the Fort La Bosse School Division, they have contributed a lot, as well as the local venues.

PWR services expanded to concussion clinics and AED (cardiac defibrillator) workshops when the devices were newly installed. Lamb started teddy bear picnics, 4v4 hockey, preschool sports, and a long list of other activities.

“The day camp has always been a success. My first camp leader was Tricia Hayward, followed by 50 other students looking for experience working with children. His emotions rise to the surface as Lamb continues, “Nothing makes me more proud than seeing these leaders living their careers today. Many of them are your local teachers. Perhaps one of the keys to her success in communities is summed up in her own words: “We always had fun! “

The boldness to “just do it” was another key to bringing activity to the region. “To my instructors, wow, where to start?” Lamb says many wanted to practice the newly learned skills, but didn’t know how to engage the audience. “That’s when I came in,” she says, adding, “Now a lot of them have their own successful businesses. “

Lamb budgeted for the course or activity, made reservations, and organized the venue.

She has networked in her role as PWR and over the years has built relationships with course instructors. Last year, the dog agility course at Diana Defoe’s Lenore Outdoor Dog Course is one example. “Who knew we had a dog trainer who had been around the world for dog competitions? “

PWR’s programs have allowed instructors to develop as facilitators and teachers. “Sometimes leaders didn’t even realize they had something to offer, but I saw an opportunity, I put it in place and made it work. “

Recreation directors often help each other. “A huge compliment was when my peers copied my programs. Recreation managers have often supported themselves morally through the challenges of meeting public needs within the budget. “Having my peers just a phone call away has kept me sane. To be recognized by the provincial recreation council, Recreation Manitoba, in June of last year, was very humbling. Lamb says, “I want to thank everyone who has been on my almost 16-year trip. It has been incredible. I have been blessed and am grateful for the opportunity to serve the community.

COVID closures have injured many community organizations, including PWR.

“The pandemic was difficult, my passion stopped, I canceled everything, but I persevered and I still created greatness.”

During 2020, new programs surfaced when outdoor activities were the only things available, including the crokicurl and the golf course’s winter hiking trail. Most memorable was when Santa Claus walked around a street parade, visiting schools and institutions for the elderly.

Laurel Lamb will remember this role all her life. “My favorite day was as Mrs. Claus, and hearing the kids screaming in excitement.”

Information from the board indicates that no new PWR programs will be launched, but programs already ready to go this fall, such as the Baby-Sitters course, will take place.

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