CENTRE WELLINGTON – Ice time at township rinks was already a hot commodity in Centre Wellington and being down a rink means local sports organizations are increasingly having to look elsewhere.
The Township of Centre Wellington normally has three ice pads, two at the Centre Wellington Sportsplex in Fergus and one at the Elora Arena, now called the Jefferson Elora Arena.
The ice pad in Elora is not available as the recreation centre has been undergoing major renovations since March of this year and expected to reopen in January, meaning the township is down a rink and multiple organizations are sharing two ice pads.
This is on top of a new junior C hockey team, the Fergus Whalers, playing its inaugural season this fall and senior Elora Rocks, normally playing out of Elora, needing the ice as well.
Some youth hockey organizations are having to seek ice out of town but are not limiting registration numbers.
Christine Cook, Centre Wellington Minor Hockey Association (CWMHA) president, said in a phone interview they are expecting roughly 800 registrants for the upcoming season starting after Labour Day.
“We’ve picked up the odd couple of hours out of town just to kind of help us out a little bit,” Cook said. “What has happened is a lot of the men’s user groups, adult groups, they’ve delayed their start because they want the kids to be able to have their programs.”
The organization is also accommodating this by doing more shared ice time among younger groups while the organization awaits the renovated arena.
The Grand River Mustangs, a local girls’ hockey association, has also had to seek ice time elsewhere as the organization continues to grow year over year.
Dan Gillies, Grand River Mustangs president, said in a phone call registrations are up 20 per cent over last year, with 300 registered so far and they don’t intend to turn anyone away.
He said the organization will have to seek ice time elsewhere but this isn’t unique to this year.
“Last year we used Grand Valley, Arthur and Palmerston … we had to do a couple of tryouts in Caledon and then we had to get ice at University of Guelph,” Gillies said.
While hockey appears to remain on track, a local skating club is having some struggles.
Elora and District Skating Club president Crystal Humphries said via email its adult women’s synchro team has yet to be allotted any ice for the season which is a “huge disappointment to this competitive women’s team.”
“We continue to search for ice for the team elsewhere, but so far with little success,” she said. “It’s a tough situation for all sports groups who use ice this season. Our club is an organization that truly calls the Elora Community Centre home and we look forward to returning to it.”
She noted registration hasn’t opened yet but would only have room for an average number of skaters.
Humphries, Cook and Gillies all mentioned the town would benefit from an additional ice pad.
“I don’t think there are too many people in the town that would disagree with this and in fact the town admits that they need a fourth pad of ice,” Gillies said.
Putting in a fourth ice pad is complicated and expensive, Gillies admitted, but suggested there could be room for the township to investigate allowing user groups to use outdoor ice rinks the township maintains.
Cook praised the township for working diligently to accommodate the local organizations and was looking forward to getting the Elora Arena back.
“We’re so excited and looking forward to the new facility, renovation in Elora, so it’s worth it,” Cook said. “It’s a bit of an inconvenience for a few months but we just have to maneuver a few things.”