PUSLINCH – Puslinch council approved moving ahead with opening the outdoor ice rink and installing curtains at the Optimist Recreation Centre in Aberfoyle.
This was first presented at the previous meeting in early November but was referred back to staff for more information in regards to operations, programming and scheduling.
There was also some issue with the previous report suggesting following other municipalities in only renting to minor hockey groups and other sports organizations.
At Wednesday’s Puslinch council meeting, CAO Glenn Schwendinger said there are still waiting on direction from the province and WDG Public Health and were therefore not able to give an update on operation plans.
The report also recommended purchasing curtains for the roofed outdoor rink. The benefit to installing curtains would benefit programs in the spring, summer and fall as it would provide shelter from wind and rain.
These would be purchased from cash-in-lieu of parkland funding.
He also stressed that if they wish to have ice this season they needed to get going on making it so it could be used.
Council was generally in favour of getting the ice installed.
Mayor James Seeley understood there’s a risk but felt there could be a pushback from the community if the COVID situation improves and they didn’t offer this service.
“I know there’s some costs to getting the ice in, we’re living in an ever-evolving situation here with COVID,” Seeley said to council. “My feeling is if ice is available and we stay in orange or better then we can offer this facility to the community.”
Councillor Jessica Goyda also acknowledged risks involved but thought outdoor recreation is more valued than ever during the pandemic.
At school pick-ups, councillor Sara Bailey said she has been asked by other parents if the ice will be opening.
She said she trusts they’ll be able to safely open the ice.
Councillor John Sepulis said he struggled with this but ultimately couldn’t support this financially or in the face of rising COVID cases in Wellington County.
“Since last council meeting it (the region) went from green to yellow to orange,” Seplus said, referring to the province’s COVID-19 public health levels.
“The trend is going the wrong way. I really think we’re fighting an uphill battle on the COVID front.”
Councillor Matthew Bulmer shared Sepulis’ concerns and said he was less enthused about opening than he was two weeks ago but was in favour.
However, he asked if the curtains would then make the rink considered to be an indoor facility.
Schwendinger said he reached out to public health and the province and did not get a clear answer on this.
He stressed this too can’t be delayed as they’re on a tight deadline to get the curtains delivered and installed, adding that he is confident it is still an outdoor facility as they will only be closed where the sun shines in.
This was passed by council in a 4-1 recorded vote with Sepulis the lone councillor not in favour.
Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com