North Kildonan Community Centre

Terry Stafeckis is retiring after 36 years as caretaker at North Kildonan Community Centre (1144 Kingsford Pl.). (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

This article was originally published in The Herald on October 23, 2020

A longtime fixture of North Kildonan is set to retire.

In 1984, Terry Stafeckis took on the job of daytime caretaker at North Kildonan Community Centre. At the time, he’d just finished building his own home outside the city. He was looking for a new challenge, when his brother-in-law mentioned there was an opening at NKCC.

“I came on down, tried it out, and now here I am,” Stafeckis recalled, with a chuckle. “I never figured I would be here that long, but one year went to two, two years to five, and so on.”

With his 65th birthday coming up on Dec. 5, Stafeckis is set to retire later this fall after 36 years on the job.

“Ever since I’ve lived in the community, Terry’s been a fixture,” said Mitch Rosset, communications director for NKCC. “He’s always here with a smile, making sure the place is in tip-top shape, that everything’s sparkling clean. If something broke, he fixed it.”

Stafeckis gives credit the community and the dedicated board of volunteers he’s worked with over the years for making his job an enjoyable one.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with everyone here over the years,” Stafeckis said, adding that he’s seen a couple generations find their way in the world during his time at the club.

After clearing a heavy snowfall, icemaker Terry Stafekis begins flooding the first of North Kildonan Community Centre’s four skating rinks. Stafekis said Dec. 8 is the latest he’s ever started flooding in the 33 years he’s been doing the NKCC rinks. (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR/THE HERALD)

“We had some directors back in the day, they had their children who would come skating after school,” Stafeckis said, with a smile. “We’d call them the rink rats and so forth. And now it’s come around that some of those rink rats have become executives and directors, they’re running the club and they’re now my boss.”For many years, NKCC’s outdoor skating rinks have had a reputation as being among the best in northeast Winnipeg, if not the city as a whole.

“We have a bit of a rivalry across the city, as to who gets the ice in first,” Rosset admitted. “Thanks to Terry, we’re one of the first, and the ice is always pristine. That shows his work ethic.”

“With ice, it’s about consistency,” Stafeckis said in regards to maintaining NKCC’s reputation. “We flood every day that it’s not snowing, that’s why our ice is always in good condition. And if it snows, my goal has always been to have that snow off the ice at the end of my shift.”

Over the course of three decades, Stafeckis has seen plenty of changes. The biggest, he figures, is in the role of community centres have in organized youth sports.

“We used to host some of the biggest outdoor tournament for hockey, and even soccer back in the day. Those days were crazy, they were so busy,” Stafeckis recalled.

Recently, those big tournaments have moved to larger centres. For hockey, Stafeckis said that weather played a deciding factor.

“Now, it’s all indoor rinks,” he said. “The time you play is the time you play, you have the roof, you have your Tim Hortons. It’s a controlled environment. The ODR is not a controlled environment. Not at all.”

While Stafeckis is looking forward to a winter off, he doesn’t plan on slowing down completely. Not yet, anyway.

“I still have a little more in me,” he said. “In the spring, I’ll see what’s out there.”

“We wish him the best in his retirement,” Rosset added on behalf of the board. “It’s well deserved, after 36 years of making the community centre one of the best in the city.”