Penetanguishene arena on ice for remainder of season

·3 min read

Arena de-icing goes against one councillor's principle of providing active time to children in the town.

That's why Coun. George Vadeboncoeur was the only one who voted against removing the ice at the Penetanguishene Memorial Community Centre at a recent council meeting.

"I'm a big supporter of kids being active," he said in a conversation with MidlandToday. "They're playing sports and being active at the arena. The recommendation was to take the ice out and without an alternative, I didn't feel it was right to vote for it to close. It was going against kids being active. It was kind of a matter of principle, I guess."

The staff report, said Vadeboncoeur, laid out that when the ice is taken out, ball hockey would get going at its usual time (if the government allows for it).

"There wasn't much I could have done in that sense because there were other activities coming up in March," he added. "Had minor hockey had said they'll take the ice between now and middle of March, I would have fought for it. I understand where staff were coming from. I would have liked to have the ice stay in a little bit longer."

At the council meeting, Sherry Desjardins, director of recreation and community services, said the lack of uptake from winter sports user groups was one of the reasons why the recommendation had been brought forward.

"We don't anticipate we will have a lot of ice usage even if we are allowed to reopen," she said. "When we closed, we were in red status, which meant that no scrimmage or game play was allowed with sports."

According to provincial rules online, rules around sports recreational and fitness facilities for regions in a red - control region indicate,

"As such, minor hockey had cancelled the last week of their ice rentals because they had to re-invent their programming," Desjardins said. "They've confirmed if we're allowed to reopen, they will not rent any ice, which impacts about 35 hours a week."

If allowed to reopen, she said, various user groups had indicated a total usage of only nine hours a week.

Penetang Junior C Kings president Jim Brown said he understood the reason behind the move.

"Being that Penetang Minor Hockey will not be continuing, as they are the largest user group, it would not make sense for them to keep it in just for one team," he said. "We are trying to purchase a few hours of ice in Midland at this time. We do wish to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers and supporters that have helped us through this pandemic."

As of right now, Desjardins said, the ice plant at the arena has been operating to maintain a minimum standard.

"Much of our staff has been redeployed elsewhere," she said. "We're recommending we take the ice out to help us get ahead of our park season. We know we've had increased usage with all of our outdoor space during the pandemic. There will be some savings in utilities with shutting down the ice plants. Those are the big drivers for our recommendations to close the ice."

Based on historical data, the facility will save approximately $27,500 per month in utilities (not inclusive of water charges).

The motion to go ahead with de-icing of the arena was passed with a majority of votes.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,