Tuesday , 2 March 2021

Save north arena, again

Cold Lake Minor Hockey is pleading with city council to save the North Arena, again.

In 2018, the organization successfully convinced council to keep the arena operational following the opening of the second rink at the Energy Centre.

CLMH may have a harder time saving the big blue beauty this go-around.

Mayor Craig Copeland explained after the presentation from CLMH, council had already decided to shut the doors to the barn.

“When we did the budget for 2021, one of the biggest decisions we made was, as a council, to close down the north arena. It operates with about a $200,000 deficit, even though minor hockey really did an outstanding job committing to about 25 hours a week of ice time, they lived up to their bargain, there’s no doubt about that.

“Unfortunately, right now, it’s a budget cut and whether or not that changes will remain to be see–what council does when we set our mill rate and our taxes at the end of May, maybe we can revisit that decision.”

In a recent Facebook post, CLMH attributes the north arena to providing 42 percent of its practice ice time over the past two seasons.

We are extremely thankful to Mayor Copeland and Council for providing CLMH the opportunity to address our concerns. The City provided CLMH further explanation into the fiscal reality and pragmatics of our current economic climate. – Cold Lake Minor Hockey

“Again, it’s all kind of linked to finding out if we’re going to get funding from the different sources that we haven’t had an answer on,” Mayor Copeland eluded to the ID-349 funding model decision as a factor in the closure of the rink.

One major question remains, with the north arena closed, where will minor hockey make up that 42 percent practice time?

Copeland explained that there may be no options, “they can’t get any more ice out at J.J. Parr. And the two arenas inside Imperial Place are fully booked.”

“There’s only a limited amount of ice time that we can get at J.J. Parr. J.J. Parr is meant first of all for military fitness and so people get really confused and lot of people just don’t understand what the purpose of J.J. Parr is.

“Technically, right now as it stands, the City of Cold Lake is down to two hockey rinks and a community of 15,000, plus the youth around the City of Cold Lake and you got a big, huge adult commitment, you got a big figure skating commitment, two junior teams, so ice time is getting scrunched down to two ranks is huge now.”

The mayor said council recognizes the impact the program has had on the community and youth.

“They’ve got over 500 youth registered in ice hockey, and it’s the largest, of course, recreational sport in Cold Lake for youth. We’re really proud. Minor hockey is doing a great job of getting these provincial tournaments to our community. So it’s a tough spot we’re in right now.”

The city and CLMH have agreed to continue discussions.

CLMH is comforted that the City will consider every option prior to making such a decision and provide a further opportunity to discuss a workable solution should that opportunity arise.

“It was a budget cut,” said mayor Copeland. “Whether or not that’s going to change all of a sudden, some new money comes in, who knows? But right now, we’re squishing down to two rinks. It’s gonna impact all users not just minor hockey.”

About Jena Colbourne