Beaverlodge, Crosslink arenas re-open, Sexsmith’s stays closed

·3 min read

SOME RECREATIONAL FACILITIES across the South Peace are closed while others will re-open after provincial restrictions for physical activities were altered again this week.

Jeff Johnston, Beaverlodge chief administrative officer (CAO), said the arena ice plant will stay on while the pool and recreation centre will remain closed until further notice.

“This decision is about having the ice available to youth,” Johnston said.

“It was the right thing to do, given (we want) to maximize ice time for this region.”

The rec department had announced Friday via social media the ice plant would be shut off Monday due to limited opportunities for use.

Over the weekend, the province announced hockey practices and children's fitness classes of up to 10 people, including coaches, will be allowed.

Johnston said the decision to re-open the arena was made in consultation with Beaverlodge Minor Hockey and the Village of Hythe.

The communities intend to keep both facilities open to maximize ice available, he said.

The Sexsmith and District Agricultural Society shut off its arena ice plant last week under the assumption only school-related sports activities would be allowed.

Clint Froehlick, Sexsmith Arena manager, said Monday the ag society isn’t reversing the shutoff due to the additional costs and uncertainty as to whether another shutdown may be mandated.

Jade Nyland, La Glace Agricultural Society president, also said the ag society won’t be restarting its ice plant due to the financial burden, considered they aren’t guaranteed the amount of user participation.

During Monday’s COVID update chief medical officer Deena Hinshaw apologized for the mixed messaging leading to local groups across the province taking out their ice, referring to this as an “inconvenience.”

Hinshaw said the latest change to allow small practices was made considering all aspects of children’s health.

Meanwhile, Johnston said Beaverlodge administration is also assessing the closure of the recreation centre and pool, considering one-on-one fitness training and small children’s classes are allowed.

“It’s one thing to offer (the rec centre) and another thing to staff it, and it’s a balance of what you can do and what you can fund,” Johnston said.

Rae Cook, Beaverlodge parks and recreation manager, said in January and February 2020 the pool saw 2,826 and 3,162 people swimming, respectively.

“This includes all aquatic programs; public, lane swim, aquafit, private rentals and lessons,” Cook said.

The number of people who used the fitness centre during the period isn’t currently available, she said.

Currently three people are employed at the rec facility, as tasks like maintenance are still needed. Johnston noted that when the centre is open the facility would have part-time customer service representatives, lifeguards and contracted instructors.

Before the pandemic the rec centre had eight lifeguards and two customer service representatives, deputy CAO Tina Letendre told the News last spring.

Rec centre memberships are being extended during the closure, according to the rec department.

Meanwhile, Clairmont’s Crosslink County Sportsplex re-opened Monday for youth lessons and practices, according to Crosslink. One-on-one training is also available.

Masks are mandatory except during physical activity and dressing rooms are limited to four at a time. No spectators are allowed, according to Crosslink.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News