Crowsnest Pass council chooses to keep season on ice

·3 min read

Roch Carrier’s beloved The Hockey Sweater is the classic story of the persecution a young boy in Quebec faces after his mother mistakenly replaces his Montreal Canadiens jersey with the detested sweater of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With public health measures upending the regular seasons of multiple sports, athletes across the province probably would have welcomed the chance to wear a rival team’s colours if it meant getting the chance to play again.

That chance unexpectedly has been given with the provincial government’s Feb. 8 easing of restrictions. Originally, Step 1 of the government’s Path Forward plan included restaurants and indoor fitness activities to reopen. School athletics and performance activities were also allowed to resume.

The province abruptly added a return to organized community team practices, which was announced Feb. 5.

The news was certainly welcomed, even though a return to youth sports was not anticipated until Step 3. The result left user groups scrambling to organize and get information out to athletes and their families.

During the Feb. 9 meeting for Crowsnest Pass council, however, the typical mid-March removal of the ice raised questions on whether maintaining the rink made sense economically.

With no peewee or bantam teams and only a small group of midget and novice players, Coun. Lisa Sygutek wondered if keeping the ice in for limited figure skating and hockey practices was economically responsible.

“Is it feasible for the taxpayer to forfeit that kind of money for a month and a half?” she asked.

Other municipalities in southern Alberta like Cardston, Claresholm, Nanton and Fort Macleod, Coun. Sygutek continued, had removed ice from their arenas to save costs.

A motion was temporarily put forward for the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex to do likewise, but it was rescinded after Coun. Doreen Glavin suggested more information was needed.

“I’d like to wait until at least we know what the user groups are doing,” said Coun. Glavin. “I understand it’s a cost, but we’re not going to save on wages because they’re going to be working somewhere else, so it’s just the matter of running the ice plant.”

Information on potential use of the arena was initially lacking due to the abrupt inclusion of sports to Step 1. In fact, community services manager Trent Smith was at first absent from the meeting in order to arrange with various user groups what facilities would be needed and how practices would be conducted.

After a brief recess was called to bring Mr. Smith from his office to the meeting, the decision to rescind the motion was soon deemed to be the right call.

“We just started on this yesterday, but we do have tentative bookings and confirmed bookings,” Mr. Smith said.

Thirty-nine hours of ice time had been booked for the next two weeks: 24 for figure skating and 15 for hockey. Both programs were actually in need of extra hours, since the government regulations limit on-ice attendance to 10 skaters, which includes players and coaches.

Hockey organizers had also expressed interest in booking weekend times, should they become available.

Keeping the ice for youth organizations, Mr. Smith said, was the right decision to make. “They were trying to work out plans much before this new announcement.”

Schedules for figure skating and hockey can be found online at http://bit.ly/CNPfigure and http://bit.ly/CNPhockey.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze