COVID-19 restrictions mean major losses for P.E.I. arenas

·2 min read
The province has increased the amount of a grant for curling clubs and rinks so they can keep operating through times of COVID-19 restrictions. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The province has increased the amount of a grant for curling clubs and rinks so they can keep operating through times of COVID-19 restrictions. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press - image credit)

It's been a tough month for Larry Richards.

He's the manager and ice tech of the Montague Curling Club where, this month, curlers were going to gather for the 2022 P.E.I. Scotties Tournament of Hearts and then later, the 2022 P.E.I. Tankard.

Rising COVID cases put a stop to that.

Restrictions that followed cut business even further, when all rinks and clubs had to shut down completely in mid-January.

"Curling and winter go together. Members can't get out to curl, and we can only run from October to the end of March, really," Richards said.

It's a major loss of revenue for his curling club and other clubs and rinks like it in the province.

Mitch Cormier/CBC
Mitch Cormier/CBC

Early in January, the province had announced it would help rinks get through this period with a $2,500 grant. But after taking a look at the impact of the restrictions on small rinks and clubs, it has increased the amount.

"We understand what it takes to operate in an arena, and especially with the lockdowns," said Communities Minister Jamie Fox.

"The revenue has been cut, so we're upping our arenas, indoor rinks to $15,000 and curling clubs up to a maximum of $7,500."

That money came just in time for some rinks. Many were considering taking out the ice for the season because of the operating costs and electricity bill.

As of Monday, Fox said 30 or 40 applications had come in and he is hoping they can be processed quickly.

"These facilities have operating costs that happen every day — you know, electricity, taxes, operating their pump systems, wages to keep the facility going — so when you take away that revenue stream it's tough for them to survive," he said.

Richards said between the pressure of paying for electricity, employee wages and more, the government money certainly helps.

"We've got bills, a bunch of money going out, and nothing coming in," he said.

His club has already applied for the grant.

"It will pay the light bill, keep the ice running."

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