Local arenas are gradually opening during the pandemic with each municipality deciding what restrictions they require for the safe use of their ice.
In Sarnia, the main PASA pad and Clearwater Arena’s two rinks opened Sept. 14 and Sarnia Arena followed on Sept. 21.
Rink Two at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena (PASA) has been operating since Aug. 4 with more than 35 user groups.
“It has been a very positive and well received start,” recreation co-ordinator Krissy Glavin reported to council.
All of Sarnia’s minor sports organizations and skills development groups are back for the season, she said. And many adult recreational groups are starting up too.
Spectators were banned at one point after PASA opened but that decision was reversed.
“Spectators have been respecting social distancing requirements and are appreciative of being able to watch their children participate in the sports they love,” said Glavin in her report.
Point Edward council agreed recently to reopen its ice Oct. 5. for use by Point Edward Minor Hockey and the Point Edward Figure Skating Club only. No other users will be allowed until Nov. 1 at the earliest.
“Many people are eager to get back to hockey and to having their kids on the ice,” said Liz Page, president of the Point Edward Minor Athletic Association. “We called a meeting right away to work on the details.”
At one point, it looked like the hockey season would be scrapped, she said. “Many parents will be happy it’s not. This one will not be typical but we are grateful to the village for working with us.
“It’s been tricky.”
Point Edward staff and volunteers are adhering to Ontario Minor Hockey Association protocols that dictate no league play. Instead, ice time will be used for practices only and inter-squad play among players in the same age group.
Young children in Point Edward who cannot skate independently won’t be able to register, spectators won’t be allowed, and there will be no tournaments or exhibition games. One parent per player will be allowed to help with putting on equipment, then have to leave the building.
Point Edward Coun. Paul Burgess, who is a professional goalie consultant, said reopening the arena is critical to the mental health of the community’s youth.
“I’ve had ice time (elsewhere) already and I see the smiles on the kids being able to have a little normalcy,” Burgess said. “I’m very happy we’re opening our arena.”
In St. Clair Township, Rink One at the Moore Sports Complex reopened Aug. 31 with physical distancing, COVID-19 screening, masks when not on ice, no spectators and limited dressing room access.
Mooretown Minor Hockey has appealed to St. Clair Township council to allow parents to enter the arena to assist their young children. A decision was expected sometime this week.
Meanwhile, Mooretown Minor moved its novice age groups to the Walpole Island Arena starting Oct. 3 so that parents can attend. However, that will be reversed if St. Clair decides spectators can attend at the Moore Sports Complex.