Council ices Tay Rink for rest of season

·3 min read

Councillors say it was a tough, but unavoidable decision to close the Tay Community Rink for the rest of the season.

Closure was option three in a staff report presented to council at a recent meeting.

It was also the one endorsed by the municipal emergency control group (ECG).

The other two options outlined reopening of the rink under provincial and health unit guidelines. All health and safety and sanitation protocols will be followed in both these options.

"Open the Tay Community Rink for private group rentals (restricted to the limit as set by the Province for organized outdoor gatherings) and pre-registered Public Skating (maximum capacity at 25)," says the report. Under this option, the rink would close at 7 p.m. (opening time not included in the document).

The second option would see the rink open up for private rental groups of five only.

"This would further help to provide control over who is attending the facility as the number of on-ice participants would be kept in compliance with outdoor gathering limits," says the report.

Staff also notes the “public good” of reopening the rink for rentals should be weighed against the revenue that will be generated from rentals, which, even at seven rentals a day, will barely cover daily labour costs, utility costs ($2,000 per week).

Keeping all those variable in mind, the ECG was recommending closing the rink for the rest of the season.

Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle was not convinced.

"I would not support option three," he said. "I don't like the reasoning for closure.

"When I look at Tiny, all their outdoor rinks are open, so where's their stay-at-home order?" asked LaChapelle, adding the money aspect may be his only consideration. "We just talked about a trail that we can clean so people can use it."

He said he is a regular user of the trail and he has seen residents from neighbouring municipalities use it as well.

"We've got a couple weeks to see if we go back up to 10 or 15 in gatherings, to recoup the money we've lost," said LaChapelle. "I think it's a redundant statement when we're allowing everything else to happen."

Mayor Ted Walker said the "redundancy" in the message was coming from the province and health unit.

"On a trail, people can be spaced out than on a skating rink," he added. "By having the rink open, the responsibility of monitoring would fall to the staff. You talked about other municipalities having their rinks open, Springwater closed their rinks because people weren't paying attention to the guidelines."

Coun. Mary Warnock agreed.

"We are not going to look very responsible if we allow it to happen," she said. "It's a tough decision and I don't envy (the ECG) having to make it."

Coun. Paul Raymond was also disappointed for having to decide in favour of a closure.

"I'm one of the people that's been pushing to try and get as many activities going for the youth," he said. "One of the things here is the cost of keeping the rink open. Rentals don't cover the cost of keeping it going. The district health units have been requesting closure of anywhere there's an opportunity to congregate. We can't control if the people coming are from Tay or outside."

Council voted to approve the recommendation of the ECG to close the Tay Community Rink for the rest of the season and directed staff to remove the ice as soon as possible.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com