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Ice for Kids Arena, February 2023. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

Fort Frances council okays summer ice

By Randy Thoms Feb 21, 2024 | 4:21 PM

Hockey players and ice skaters will likely get the chance to skate at the Memorial Sports Centre this summer.

Town council is allowing a pilot project to proceed in July and August.

Recreation and Culture Manager Nathan Young says he has commitments from various user groups for at least 290 hours of ice time.

He says his next step is contacting groups to get a firm commitment.

“And it would be an April 15th cutoff date for them to confirm their ice sales before opening that up to the markets to add additional sales on,” says Young.

He says that gives them a better idea of the projected revenues and expenses to having ice available during the summer.

The Fort Frances Lakers, the Fort Frances Muskies, Fort Frances Minor Hockey, the Rainy River District School Board’s hockey academy and the Northern Lights Skating Club all expressed some interest.

Young says there would still be another 480 hours available to other groups or for programs like public skating and shinny.

Councillor Mandi Olsen sees it attractive to ice users from outside the community.

“We would be the only community in the region in July that would have open ice time,” says Olson. “Kenora doesn’t do it. Dryden doesn’t do it. Eagle Lake doesn’t hold that ice space anymore. Yet, we have up to five regional teams that play all summer long. So, they’re going to be seeking out this additional ice time, including our local youth, as an opportunity to continue to hit the ice.”

Young says based on the 290 hours of committed time, it would cost the town about five thousand dollars.

Councillor Wendy Brunetta does not think now is the time to add new programming, noting the challenges council is facing with this year’s budget.

“I realize it’s a pilot, and hopefully, once you run a pilot, sometimes it takes off. But we just had a very difficult decision or discussion around budget, and I can’t see adding more services, more stress on our staff, more of the same doesn’t make sense to me,” says Brunetta.