Staff aims to reopen Tay rink by mid-month

·3 min read

The Port McNicoll rink will soon welcome private rentals to allow for staff to implement controls around contact tracing and other safety measures.

Council agreed with measures staff had proposed around the reopening.

“I do know that there will be demand for adult use and rental use because of restrictions at Midland and Penetang,” said Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle. “The adult group is looking for something. We're looking at the costing and I'm a strong believer that use will increase. Walk-ins are just not feasible, we can't stop it, we can't manage it, and it's against the guidelines.”

Coun. Barrie Norris said he thought a maximum of 22 people in the rink sounded like a manageable number.

“We definitely need an organization or someone renting it,” he said. “I see this as very positive.”

However, some of the elected officials wanted staff to explore options of allowing similar rentals for smaller groups.

“If we can do that and have (20) people register online, then why can't we do that for small groups that want to register for shinny and free skate?” asked Coun. Mary Warnock. “Maybe there could be school nights and those kids have to sign up like they would for recreation programs, with the 22 limit being in place.”

She said she would like to see the same option for people who want to skate during the day.

“This might be something you could phase in if we're allowed the same number of people,” said Warnock.

Bryan Anderson, parks, recreation & facility services manager, said there may be an opportunity for the township to do so using its recreation software.

“The (school) class list would have to be printed and provided to our staff who would check individuals coming in,” he said. “There would be staffing checks.”

Anderson said he could reach out to the schools to find out if they're looking for ice time for the classes.

“There are options to look at to go down that avenue, we'd just have to work out some kinks,” he said, noting that one of the reasons why there is advance booking is to discourage no-shows. "That would eat into the time available."

In that case, Coun. Paul Raymond asked, considering the expense of reopening the rink with limited capacity, what would it cost to shut it down?

Anderson said it would be about $5,000.

“If we had to close down a week or two or a month into the ice season, we shut the compressor off and it would be a bit of staff time to scrape the ice off the paint,” he added. “I don't know the exact number of what those wages would be, but it would be a couple days with a couple guys with our machines.”

From there, Raymond asked whether there would be an opportunity to restart?

“(That) would depend on when we would be asked to shut down,” said Anderson. “If we're asked to restart in January, I don't see a problem. You're going to incur some costs, the compressor is ready to go, and we don't need to paint again, so it would be staff time. We could probably get it back up and running at a relatively low cost.”

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,