With a tentative re-opening date of Feb. 10, the outdoor Scott Seaman Sports Rink will offer two one-hour slots each day for the remainder of February.
The indoor Oilfields Regional Arena will also open for user groups to book for training as allowed by provincial restrictions.
Following discussion in a Feb. 3 meeting, Council agreed to maintain the Oilfields Regional Arena and the Scott Seaman Sports Rink for six weeks.
Coun. Jackie Stickel, who put forward the motion to make the rinks available to the public, acknowledged that they would operate at a significant loss, but that it was worth it.
“Our general public has been very patient waiting for our facilities to possibly open,” said Stickel. “I think we should give them that opportunity, if we can make it work for six weeks.”
“I think lots of kids, especially ones who are in competitive levels, need to have that practice time.”
Coun. Veronica Kloiber said that she would like to see the rinks opened for the community to use, even if it is at a loss, for the emotional and physical well-being of users.
Deputy Mayor Daryl Lalonde echoed the sentiment.
“We’ve battled this for five months now — our public have done a great job of suffering through it,” he said. “We have to appreciate what they’ve gone through and recognize the challenges not just of physical health, but of mental health as these kids haven’t been playing the game they love and they strive for.
“I agree with Veronica, it is a lost revenue. So be it. We’ll figure it out one way or another. We have to look at the mental stability and health of the community as a whole.”
Christine Bates of the Oilfields Sports Association said she’s heard frustration from the community over the outdoor rink being closed.
“People are driving to Okotoks, to Millarville, they're driving to Turner Valley and to Sandy McNabb to use those outdoor ice services," she said. “They're frustrated that they haven't been able to use the beautiful outdoor ice service that's in their community.”
She’s concerned that it will be difficult for user groups to book the ice on such short notice.
To operate the facilities, the Town will re-hire the five employees that were laid off or redeployed to other departments on Nov. 27 when the two rinks closed for December 2020.
The expense to rehire an employee to maintain the arena is estimated $1,000 per week for six weeks.
The Scott Seaman Sports Rink, while an outdoor ice surface, does use a refrigeration plant and requires staff to maintain it, Brown said.
When operating, the two rinks average around $9,000 in utility expenses (electricity, gas, insurance, and carbon tax) before labour costs.
The rink will be available for public skating Monday to Friday 12-1 p.m. and 3:45-4:45 p.m., Saturday 3-4 p.m. and 4:30-5:30 p.m., and Sunday 9-10 a.m. and 10:30-11:30 a.m.
If the temperature is below -20 degrees C, the outdoor rink will not open that day.
There will be a maximum of 50 skaters allowed per session, and no washrooms or change rooms will be made available. No sticks, pucks, practice, or shinny is permitted on the ice during public skate times.
More information can be found at http://town.blackdiamond.ab.ca
At the time of the meeting, only one-on-one sports skills training was permitted. On Feb. 6, the Province of Alberta added that limited minor sport practice and dance and gymnastic classes would also be allowed to resume when restrictions ease on Feb. 8.