At its January 25 meeting, Huntsville council discussed whether to take the ice out at the Canada Summit Centre early due to the provincial shutdown and save on utilities.
“We’re in lockdown. I think it’s important that we have a discussion as to whether or not we’re going to keep the ice in at the Summit Centre indefinitely waiting for the lockdown to end, or whether we should be considering taking the ice out,” Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano told council.
“The utility cost that we’ve assessed, based on that… it’s actually running warmer and we’re only running the plant four hours a day… we’ve got an approximate utility cost for the 28 days—that would be January 12 to February 10—at about $4,200,” Simone Babineau, director of community services for the Town, told council.
She said the cost to take the ice out, already planned for April, is budgeted at about $6,000, while the cost to put the ice back in, which is also already in the budget and usually happens in August, runs $18,000 to $20,000.
“The emergency order, if it’s extended another 28 days on February 10 or anytime before that, the cost of utilities will again be another $4,200 for that 28 days,” Babineau told council, adding that staff have been provided with information by user groups who might be able to help make that decision. She said the Huntsville minor hockey group is considering extending its season to May 31, if conditions are favourable and the rules surrounding COVID lift.
“They don’t know what they’ll be allowed to do within those regulations or whether the parents will want their kids to come back. So, they’re looking at that season and are relying on us having ice in order to even discuss it further,” she added.
In terms of figure skating, Babineau said that user group can easily adapt and is always looking for more ice time. As for rentals, “what we’re finding is that whether it’s floor [space] or ice, we can rent it depending on what colour [in the province’s COVID framework] we come back in and what regulations… we’re adhering to.”
Councillor Jason FitzGerald said he favoured leaving the ice in “in case the opportunity presents itself that the ice is utilized. We’ve experienced a lot of things that have taken a lot of joy and opportunity for people to do things here and the cost seems minuscule versus everything else to provide that opportunity if in fact, it becomes available.”
Councillor Brian Thompson suggested it be left in for another month “and if things don’t shake out at that point then okay we take it out.”
Councillor Withey told council that he thought the probability of the lockdown being extended is high. He also said while he understands the need for people to be active, he’s concerned with “putting false hope out there and thinking that anytime soon we’re going to be back to any level of normalcy.”
Withey said he’d prefer to see the ice taken out and brought back earlier if conditions are favourable. “I honestly don’t think we’re coming out of this until at least the summer and with what we’re hearing federally about vaccine delays—that the prime minister’s promise of having everyone vaccinated by September, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Nancy Alcock also weighed in: “I think there’s nothing wrong in waiting one more month and waiting for that next step and I think if we were to do that then in a month’s time the decision will be clear, one way or the other… maybe it is false hope but right now actually it might be nice to have some hope that some things will change.”
Councillor Dan Armour suggested that the ice be kept in until the next announcement, expected by February 11, and if the lockdown continues that the ice be automatically taken out without having to return to council for further discussion.
The majority of council voted in favour of that resolution, with FitzGerald voting against it.
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