Vermilion Minor Hockey made a delegation at Tuesday’s town council meeting in the hopes of encouraging arena ice to be put in before January.
The Town of Vermilion regularly operates with two ice surfaces (in the stadium and the arena) but this year they said they were waiting for the usage to go up before flooding the arena.
Minor Hockey president, Shaun Cadrain, said that the 14 teams were operating with 1.4 practices per week instead of the two normally granted, and that the two teams believed to be disbanded were still on the ice.
“Kids are usually there an hour early to prepare for a game and now are only given half an hour. I wanted to show no other places expect teams to practice on the weekend, and I made a mock schedule of what it would look like if we had both surfaces,” said Cadrain.
Examples were given of other facilities where practices are only booked Monday – Friday, Saturdays are used for public skating, and Sundays are kept open. Cadrain spoke to the Vermilion Skating Club, Toothless Tigers and Jr. B Tigers about the schedule and said other communities with the same population and two ice surfaces still offer two practices per week.
“This year we gave our perennial sponsors a free jersey sponsor for their support over the years. Each one of the 14 teams will be interacting with the community, some shovelling snow and others purchasing gifts for seniors, etc.
“We will be putting a float in the fair parade, and offered a discount to try and increase membership on a tough year. We are doing our part to try and keep hockey numbers up and people coming to the community,” said Cadrain.
Last year, he estimated an economic income study based on how Minor Hockey benefits the community by speaking with local hotels and restaurants.
He said Boston Pizza’s weekend revenue easily doubles when there is hockey. Cadrain estimated an approximate $200,000 addition to the local economy per tournament, meaning a $2 million benefit per year.
“Granted, this year we have no tournaments, but right now the only people that are sacrificing are the kids. We always hear about physical literacy and social skills and these things will stay with them for life,” said Cadrain.
Deputy mayor Clint McCullough asked how the organization would handle a COVID-positive player, and he responded that they would follow Hockey Alberta’s guidelines including isolation.
“If anything, having the second surface would allow people to better social distance and vacate the lobby which would help prevent the spread of COVID, and would provide the ability to increase participation,” said Cadrain.
He asked if council was targeting January to put the arena ice in, why not sooner?
Community Services Director, Kevin Lucas, said the decisions were made based on 2019 data and usage this year.
A new schedule was expected in January, but seeing the schedule presented by Cadrain at the meeting that would be used from November 18 until March, Lucas agreed to sit down with Cadrain to review the new information and see what they could make work.
Mayor Caroline McAuley thanked Cadrain for his presentation and their willingness to work together.