Slide into your skates – ice may be put in early this season

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

The Fort Frances Community Services Executive Committee approved a request to put ice in the middle of August.

The request came from Gary Silander, president of the Lakers hockey club.

In the report, Aaron Bisson, recreation and culture manager, wrote that the Lakers would use the ice a couple of days a week beginning the middle of August to gear up for their season after having to cut the season short last year.

Bisson also reached out to other user groups, all of which stated that they are looking at late September or early October start dates.

Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft said he was concerned about how much running the rink in August would cost.

Bisson said they would only be starting up one ice plant.

“In the past, we have begun that process in early April regardless of ice time usage, I don’t have the exact dollar figure of what it would cost to run that plant over in August,” Bisson said “It’s more difficult to run it in August, obviously, then it is in December. But it’s not cheaper.”

Fort Frances Mayor June Caul said she would like to see the ice be put in early and manage the possible extra costs.

“Our children have been tied up in their homes for too long. There’s nothing really going on this summer. We’ve got an awful lot of kids who play hockey who figure skate who may come out for some public skating to use up some of that ice time,” Caul said.

Despite the potential extra costs of putting the ice in earlier, other councillors were in favour of starting in August.

Coun. Andrew Hallikas echoed Caul’s remarks.

“These are exceptional times. If we put the ice in in August, it’s really not that long before all of the users come on board,” Hallikas said. “I think we advertise that we want to put the ice in as a service. We need people to use it. I would like to see it put in if we can swing it.”

Caul added that if the coaches or the boys and girls hockey associations were asked, that they would possibly start doing conditioning camps or other activities to get children back on the ice a little earlier.

“My suggestion is maybe to reach out to those people and by phone and possibly even having a meeting of representatives from every user group and maybe between our collaboration of all of them, we can get that ice so that it is a little bit more cost effective for the town,” Caul said.

Wiedenhoeft said that if more user groups came forward about using the ice, he would not be opposed to a mid-August date but that if the Lakers and Borderland hockey were the only ones, he is leaning towards early September.

Coun. Mike Behan was concerned about whether putting the ice in would conflict with the summer program that council is trying to get off the ground and starting in mid-August in case there is a rainy day.

Bisson said that they would be running the program out of the 52 Canadians Arena as they would only be putting the ice in for the Ice for Kids arena at the Memorial Sports Centre first.

Municipal clerk Lisa Slomke made clear that the use of the ice will be conforming with all COVID protocols as required by the province.

The Community Services Division recommends to the mayor and council a plan for ice to begin the middle of August if demand warrants. The report will be brought to Fort Frances council next Monday.