Cold Lake Minor Hockey (CLMH) is pleading with the City of Cold Lake to save the north arena. The organization presented to City Council at the most recent Council meeting stressing the need for the arena to stay operational, after the opening of the second ice surface at the Energy Centre.
“The growth of CLMH has been rampant,” Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland, explained that stats presented at the meeting showed an enormous growth in the organization.
CLMH has grown by 60 percent over the past six years, with a projected membership of 600 within five years, confirmed Vice-President of the organization, Lawren Wowk. “CLMH has seen a steady influx at the Initiation Division averaging 110 registrants annually over the past four years. The Novice Division has averaged nearly 100 registrants annually over the past four years.”
“CLMH recognizes that our membership growth is a direct result of the implementation of grass roots hockey,” Wowk explained that the organization worked for years to build up training and development of its players. “Now we’re competitive. We’re winning Provincials, we’re winning tournaments,” it’s natural for kids to thrive off that success, said Wowk.
“CLMH is committed to maintaining the long term player development model articulated by Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta. We require the north arena to remain operational to maintain the model,” stated Wowk.
CLMH has become a leader in the hockey field and we want to continue leading the way for the benefit of our membership and their children. -Lawren Wowk, Vice-President Cold Lake Minor Hockey
Despite the rapid growth rate of CLMH, they have only seen a six percent increase in ice allocation, which came from the 4-Wing Cold Lake, not the City of Cold Lake.
The Mayor explained that CLMH cannot rely on ice time from the base, “what people need to understand is that JJ Parr is there for military programming, first. Hockey is part of [the members] fitness program. Minor Hockey and Figure Skating kind of fit in, after the members do.”
“It can be tough, Monday to Friday, to get ice time on the base, but on the weekends it frees up,” said the mayor.
“They’re concern, as an organization, is, if we close the north rink, where is that ice time going to be picked up,” said Copeland. CLMH asked for the rink to remain open Monday through Friday, October to March, with approximately 23 hours used.
Opening in October and closing in March, when the weather is warmer, would allow for less strain on the ice plant. Since practice doesn’t begin until after school, there would not need to be a maintenance person there until 4:00 pm. This would also save on the operational costs of the rink.
“If the north arena does not remain operational, CLMH may be forced to begin restricting registration numbers.” Wowk explained that’s something the organization does not want to do.
“We remain hopeful that City Council will not only understand our request, but accept the need for the request to ‘Save the North Arena’. ” Wowk said he found Council to be receptive to their message.
“They lobbied very well to keep the north arena open,” said Mayor Copeland. The City has given CLMH an estimated timeline for a decision as mid-September.