Thursday , 21 October 2021
Clancy Richard Arena.

St. Paul Minor Hockey could start practices Wednesday

The Town of St. Paul will be keeping the Clancy Richard Arena open and splitting the available ice time between St. Paul Minor Hockey and St. Paul Figure Skating.

As of Feb. 8, sports are permitted in Alberta for people under 18 years old. They can practice in groups of up to 10 people including the coach, as long as distance is maintained and masks are worn, except for during the activity.

No competitive games against other teams or cohorts are allowed.

According to Bryce Balmer, president of St. Paul Minor Hockey, a further update from the province late in the afternoon on Feb. 8 will allow them to have up to 20 people on the ice at a time, as long as they keep to two groups of 10, each playing on half the rink and maintaining distance from each other.

“We’re polling our membership now to see what the enrollment and interest would be into a program like that, as it’s only physically distanced and more development based, there’s no games. I know there’s some families that are just done. But assuming we get 80 per cent back it will allow us to resume with split team practices in some capacity,” said Balmer.

He said he hopes to have kids on the ice as early as Feb. 10 and minor hockey plans to have a minimum of two hours of ice time per player per week.

“It could be more if we have a lower enrollment, but the way the way we have now the way the ice times are working and the number of ice times that we have allotted to us between Monday and Sunday, it’ll be probably one practice in the week and one on the weekend. We do have to share the ice with the figure skaters,” said Balmer.

Lakeland Connect did reach out to St. Paul Figure Skating for further details of what their programs will look like in light of the loosened restrictions, but has not yet received a response.

CAP Arena and other facilities

At the town council meeting on Feb. 8, council discussed the possibility of re-opening the CAP Arena to make more ice time available. The town turned off the ice plant at the CAP Arena at the end of January, citing the high cost of maintaining the ice when it is not being used.

“If we opened up both facilities there are probably a number of ice slots available for rent because there’s no adult ice being used. There’s no adult sport groups able to rent the ice. This is only youth groups 18 and under that are able to do sports and it’s nine and a coach so it’s very, very limited,” said the town’s Director of Parks and Recreation Harvey Smyl.

Coun. Gary Ward said if groups in St. Paul weren’t able to commit to high utilization of both rinks then the CAP Arena should remain closed.

“We’ll have to run as much ice as we can in the Clancy for both figure skating and minor hockey. It’ll be fun scheduling, but it is what it is,” said Ward.

Coun. Tyson deMoissac asked if there was any possibility of opening other facilities like the Rec Centre up for other physical sports.

“There’s a group of girls that have been playing ball all winter and they just need a spot to throw. That’s all it is, is throwing and just keeping up during the week running exercises,” said deMoissac.

Mayor Maureen Miller expressed support saying, “whatever we can do to accommodate these kids getting out and about I think that the community needs to look at that.” She suggested deMoissac discuss it further with Smyl, who would be better positioned to make a recommendation about whether it meets the requirements given by the province.

A motion to leave it to Smyl’s discretion to keep the Clancy Richard Arena open or closed based on the evolving guidelines from the province carried with all in favour.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.