Despite lockdown, BV opts to keep ice in rink

·3 min read

Eganville – Bonnechere Valley council is keeping the ice at the Eganville Arena, planning on a return to use when the provincial lockdown is finished.

“Right now, we are good to go if they give us the green light,” Recreation Manager Kevin McGrath told a committee meeting of council last Tuesday afternoon.

He said the arena shut down on December 26 following the provincial lockdown.

“The plant has been turned up to 24 F and is now running about two or three hours in a 24-hour period,” he said.

The operating cost per day for the rink is about $131 to run the plant, he said.

“With that being said, the usage of everything is down and the plant is not running as much,” he said. “There is still cost, but not as severe.”

Because of the regulations from the province, he asked for direction from council about either shutting down the plant or continuing to maintain it. According to the Ontario government, the state of emergency is slated to end on February 11. Minor hockey had committed to using ice into mid-March.

“We only have another month left,” Mr. McGrath said. “Will we be coming back with additional regulations or status quo? We are kind of waiting.”

He said Madawaska Valley has decided to remove the ice at the rink in Barry’s Bay.

“It is a tough call,” he said.

Councillor Jack Roesner, who had previously asked for the operating cost of running the plant, said he felt the arena should be kept ready for re-opening.

“My feeling is we should not jump the gun and remove the ice,” he said. “We have commitments with teams. It is early for us to pull the plug.”

Councilor Tim Schison asked if the ice was removed would it be possible to put it back in.

“It would not be on the table at all,” Mr. McGrath answered. “It is a good 10 days of starting over. You would not be putting your lines back in. That is a cost of $2,000.”

Councillor Merv Buckwald pointed out the weather forecast was calling for some colder temperatures and questioned letting nature keep the ice cold. He suggested the possibility of opening the doors to let the cold in.

Mr. McGrath said the previous night the plant ran for only two hours because of the cold which is seeping in.

Councillor Brent Patrick said it was important to keep the arena open.

“We’ve opened the arena through everything,” he said. “Let’s keep it open. When we can open those doors, I want to be able to.”

Mr. McGrath said he will continue to be in contact with current users to see if they are committed to coming back when the arena re-opens.

“It is too early to pull the pin,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy said. “I thought these numbers would be higher. I had in my head $500 a day.”

Coun. Buckwald asked if the plant runs less when the weather turns colder. When told it did, he pointed out there should be colder weather coming.

“We can’t have a winter like this forever,” he said.

At Centennial Park skaters are enjoying the rink despite the lockdown.

“The outdoor rink is getting used,” Mr. McGrath added. “We are a maximum of 25 people.”

The rink continues to be maintained by the department and flooded by the fire department. He said people are able to use it and maintain proper physical distancing.

“It seems to be working okay,” he said. “We haven’t had any complaints.”

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader