Council ends Providence Bay ice rental season, holds on Mindemoya

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CENTRAL MANITOULIN – Citing the current provincial emergency declaration and stay-at-home lockdown, Central Manitoulin council followed a recommendation of the municipality’s property committee to pass a motion, moved by Councillor Angela Johnston and seconded by Councillor Rose Diebolt, “That council approves the Providence Bay arena be closed for ice rentals and that the equipment be shut down for the remainder of the winter season due to reduced use caused by COVID-19 restrictions.”

Noting that the original motion did not make it clear, Councillor Johnston requested that it be worded to indicate the closure was for ice rentals only. “I think it is important that we indicate that we are stopping the ice use,” she said. “Not shutting the building.”

Councillor Derek Stephens supplied information he had received from staff indicate that it costs $600 a day to maintain the ice in the arena. “The only reason we are keeping the Mindemoya arena open is for minor hockey,” he said. “Should we be doing both?” He pointed out that even if minor hockey were to re-start their season in February, “(the season) could run into late spring.” He pointed out that trying to keep ice in the warmer months had proven problematic (and expensive) in the past. “Let’s bite the bullet and take the ice out of both.”

Mayor Stephens pointed out that the cost estimate quoted by Councillor Stephens was per week and not per day. He noted that the hockey association was indicating they would not anticipate running into late spring. The mayor also described seeing a steady train of students from Central Manitoulin Public School trudging by his office to utilize the arena for programming. “It’s well used.” He suggested that council might hold off on deciding to shut down the ice in Mindemoya for a couple of weeks and see what develops on the lockdown front.

In the end, council passed the motion to discontinue making ice at Providence Bay, but to hold off making a decision on Mindemoya for the time being.