With a state-of-the-art sport and wellness centre nearly complete and more projects in the works, Cape Breton’s Membertou First Nation is expanding its business opportunities.

Construction zones have become a common sight in Membertou, where several major recreation and shopping projects are underway.

“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true,” says senior advisor Dan Christmas. “We worked on this and dreamed about this for so many years.”

The new sport and wellness centre features two ice surfaces – the larger one with a seating capacity of 1,200. There is also a full-sized walking track, a fitness centre and community rooms that are still under construction.

The main purpose of the facility is to promote physical fitness in the community.

“Sadly, a lot of our population here in Membertou and elsewhere are not as active as they should be,” says Christmas. “The whole issue of obesity, diabetes and all those health indicators have been of serious concern.”

The ice surface opened Tuesday. General manager Gordie Snook says they are already 85 per cent booked up.

“We have commitments from the Junior Miners, Sydney Minor Hockey, Sydney Academy, the Panther Midget AAA Girls team,” says Snook. “We’re quite busy starting off.”

There has been a steady stream of people to the facility this week, taking photos and getting a sneak peek at the new design.

“It’s certainly going to be nice for all of the area,” says area resident Jimmy Borden. “We are going to enjoy it I’m sure.”

Construction on the new $19-million facility started two years ago. The federal government provided $6 million while the province kicked in another $6 million to cover construction costs.

While the new sport and wellness centre is sparking a lot of interest in the community, it’s not the only economic development in the making.

“The biggest one right now is Church Hill Crossings, a retail centre along Highway 125. That’s our focus over the next number of years,” says Christmas. “Further down the road, we’re looking at developing the area around the Cape Breton Regional Hospital as a health campus.”

The grand opening of the new sport and wellness centre is planned for November.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore