Vermilion Minor Hockey president Shaun Cadrain has addressed the Mayor and Town Council through a letter asking when ice will be put in the arena.
Currently, there is ice in the stadium, but traditionally there are two ice surfaces in both the stadium and arena. Cadrain claims that so far they are experiencing a 44 per cent average loss in practice time, even as high as 61 per cent on weeks when the schedule only allows teams one practice per week.
VMH has 14 teams this year, and Cadrain said that hockey benefits businesses as well as youth, and provides an opportunity to showcase the town.
“We have been told over the years that the town would like to see more hours rented in the two ice surfaces, so last year we increased practice times for the three oldest age groups,” said Cadrain.
“Minor hockey contributes a lot to the local economy each year through the amount of visitors it brings to town, and now Mayor and council show their appreciation by cutting our ice time on a year where going to the rink is one of the only things that feels half normal.”
With the need for new two million dollar ice plant, he said it’s becoming a challenge to motivate fundraising with the current reduction in ice. With nearly 100 shares online, his letter was clearly garnering support and concern for this topic in the community.
In response to previous similar complaints, the town has responded by saying that they appreciate the willingness of most users to rearrange their hours. An online town notice the town said they are confident that the current used condenser will be able to support a third ice sheet (curling rink/stadium/potential arena).
“It comes down to cost and if they put ice in the arena, they need to ensure that it will be filled,” said Mayor Caroline McAuley at last week’s council meeting.
The town said there are currently still hours open for booking including five hours on Saturday.
Director of Community Services, Kevin Lucas, said that throughout the season if regulations change and tournaments start being scheduled, that he can have the additional ice put in within a week. Six people have reached out for more information, he said, and when a new game schedule is released in January, will reassess the need for additional ice.
Alternative uses for the arena identified in the past by the town included using the arena for dryland training or as a walking track, but the walking track need has already been filled by the Vermilion Agricultural Society.
“My experience with other rinks (not in Vermilion) for ice August-March averages $380,000 and a second ice surface from November – early March would cost approximately $120,000, but I have not seen numbers under ‘normal operating conditions’ that I could provide for Vermilion,” said Lucas.
He said the cost of keeping heat/power/water on in the arena for any alternative activities would depend on the activity.