Ice going in at PRC this week for Oct. 1 start-up
By Pat Payton
Last Tuesday, Sept. 15, town council made the decision to open just one ice pad at the Pyramid Recreation Centre (PRC) for now.
The PRC staff was scheduled to begin installing ice on Sept. 21. Mayor Al Strathdee says five user groups will begin using the PRC ice, starting Oct. 1. They are: St. Marys minor hockey, St. Marys ringette, the Jr. ‘B’ Lincolns, Triple ‘A’ minor hockey and the Silver Knights minor hockey organization.
“We’ve been meeting with the ice users regularly, and we’ve decided that we’re going to go with one ice pad as of Oct. 1,” Strathdee said following last week’s council meeting. “Then we’re going to review, pending on how it goes. The reality is, we’re concerned about the cleaning and the staffing, so we can run it smoothly and properly.
“The user groups have been awesome in terms of committing (to purchasing ice). We told them that they needed to commit so many hours and they’ve all committed, and they’re all anxious to get going. There is a big demand for ice; it’s a hockey community.”
Strathdee says the Huron-Perth Health Unit will be coming to the PRC and making sure that all safety rules are being followed. In the meantime, staff will begin preparing for the public traffic flow.
With just one ice pad opening, the mayor noted that they’re approximately 20 hours of ice short of satisfying the current needs of the five mentioned user groups.
Strathdee says dressing rooms (up to eight players) will be open for those groups using the facility. “That’s what the Health Unit has told us. Everyone will pay the same rate for ice; we have checked with our neighbours and it’s more (money) in Stratford. So we’re competitive with everyone.”
Second ice pad opening Nov. 1?
Nov. 1 is the tentative date that council has circled on the calendar for opening the second ice pad, but only if things are running smoothly and safely.
“Operations safety, that’s our concern,” the mayor reiterated. “If after the first two or three weeks (of October), things are going well and everybody is doing it safely, we can have the second ice pad up and going in seven days.
“The theory is, if everything is going well with the pandemic and we’re running it safely, we’ll open the second ice pad Nov. 1. We didn’t bring a (council) motion to that effect, but that was the discussion. If the government allows us to proceed, we’ll open the second pad.”
Chris Boyd, ice convener for St. Marys minor hockey, says the association is going to get most of the ice-time hours they asked for.
“At first, I was not very happy with the (one pad) decision,” Boyd told the Independent. “The first proposal the town sent us was one-hour rentals, with a half-hour buffer in between, so we weren’t going to get anywhere close to what we needed for ice.
“But now with the measures they’ve put in place, opening up the dressing room, I think we’re going to get 39 of the 45 hours that we requested. Obviously, they’re not all ideal times of the day.”
Boyd says seven of the SMMHA’s ice times start at 10 p.m.
“For the first month, I think we can live with that,” the past president says. “Once the second pad opens up, the allocation of the ice will get moved around a little bit. Then we can pick up more hours that we need.
“It’s a complicated issue. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than what the town originally proposed to us. Hopefully, it’s just short term and we’ll make it work,” he added.
–The PRC pool is scheduled to open Nov. 1. “It will be limited hours, but the target was 25 hours to start,” mayor Strathdee says. “There will also be a maximum number of people you can have in the pool. It depends on the activity.”