Town council picks ‘drop-dead dates for arena ice

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

There’s not a lot of optimism going around about hockey or figure skating getting re-started. Based on last week’s government announcements about the gradual easing of restrictions, plus Hockey Alberta pulling the plug on the season (there goes minor hockey), things look pretty gloomy.

So town council last week dealt with the inevitable question: What’s the drop-dead date for ice in the MRC? When do we shut it down to save money? A date of Feb. 12 was suggested.

Opinions varied.

“I would start taking it out now,” said councillor Rebecca King. “I don’t see the MRC opening.”

“I would have held on to the end of February,” said mayor Tyler Warman. “People are starving for something to do.”

“I don’t see the point,” said King. “They’ve told us three weeks after Feb. 8 – that’s the end of February.”

How about closing one ice surface now, suggested councillor Darin Busk, and holding off on the other one, just in case.

“There’s got to be a glimmer of hope here somewhere,” he said.

How about closing them both now, said councillor Shawn Gramlich, but aim for an earlier re-opening; say in July.

Warman was for hanging on as long as possible, given that all but one of the user groups is so keen to get back on the ice as soon as they can. Another factor influencing his opinion was the money to be saved in shutting down was less than he expected.

One thing is for sure; if the town does shut down the ice plant, that’s it. It won’t be re-started until the beginning of the next season, even if the government lifts its restrictions before then.

So, said the mayor, how about we take out one ice surface now and set a drop-dead date on the other one for the last day of February. If the government gives a green light by then, user groups still interested can get back at it in March, and maybe the season can be extended for a month or so.

Worth noting is that it could take the town two full weeks to get back to operational capacity at the MRC. Re-calling laid-off staff, for example, is expected to take a week. The hope is it coud be done in less than that two weeks, said Garry Roth, presenting the report, but that’s the estimate.
Roth’s report included news of what some other towns were doing on the same question. Most were still waiting; Athabasca and Westlock have both already removed their ice.

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