Ice stays in the Walkerton arena another six weeks

·2 min read

BROCKTON – There’ll be ice in the Walkerton arena until May 14.

Brockton council approved the staff recommendation to extend the ice season from April 1 to May 14 during the March 9 meeting.

In mid-February, council discussed what to do about ice in the arena for the duration of the season. The province was in lockdown due to COVID-19 at the time, and minor hockey had decided to end its season.

Council directed staff to keep ice in the arena and reopen it after coming out of the lockdown until April 1.

In the interim, staff were approached by Quick Feet Hockey, and requested a six-week extension of the ice season after April 1.

Mark Coleman, director of community services, reported ice operations are running well and user groups are following the updated COVID-19 protocols. Participants in the Quick Feet program are from Grey-Bruce – the program doesn’t accept participants from red or grey zones.

“Quick Feet took all the minor hockey ice time and more,” he said.

While some ice user groups will be finishing their season on April 1, Coleman said Quick Feet Hockey is requesting an additional 40 hours of ice per week from April 6 to May 14 to meet demand. About six additional hours of ice per week is likely to be requested from other local groups and private rentals. There’ll be about six hours of ice per week for public skating.

Coun. Steve Adams said he supported extending the ice season despite the added expense. Council was told in the staff report that projected revenues would amount to about half of what expenses would be.

There was no hesitation on the part of Coun. James Lang.

“I think this is great,” he said, noting Quick Feet was offering opportunities for local youth in its program, and would be sponsoring some public skates.

Coleman noted Quick Feet Hockey pays full price for ice time.

There were two concerns expressed by Coleman about extending the ice season. One was the risk of permafrost. However, the risk is considered low, with at least two months between the time the ice goes out, to the start of the next season in mid-August. Testing for frost conditions will be done at the end of this season and before the start of the next.

The second concern was staff scheduling, which will get complicated as parks and recreation transitions to spring and summer operations while continuing ice operation.

Lang later commented on another skating opportunity provided for local skaters this past winter. The ice oval in Lobies Park was a great success, he said.

“I hope it becomes a tradition.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times