With council’s blessing, Mindemoya arena will open for winter sports

Mindemoya Arena

MINDEMOYA – The property committee for the municipality of Central Manitoulin has agreed with a request from the Mindemoya Minor Hockey Association to have the Mindemoya arena opened this winter.

“I am here on behalf of the Mindemoya Minor Hockey Association,” said April Watson, at a Central Manitoulin property committee meeting last week. “I have a letter that indicates the municipality has two options for discussion, on having the two arenas (Providence Bay as well as Mindemoya) and two ice plants open. From our perspective, our intent is to have teams play in the Mindemoya arena over the Providence Bay arena.”

However, “We understand there could be some difficulties maintenance-wise,” said Ms. Watson, “but, we would prefer to have planned ice in Mindemoya. We’re looking to resume the historical scheduling for games and practices of the minor hockey league as well as for the Hackers and the Lakers. I am here on behalf of the association tonight to get an idea if council is planning to put ice in both arenas this season.” She noted necessary COVID-19 protocols will be in place. 

Councillor Derek Stephens asked, “with minor hockey this year, are you looking to go back to the normal five-on-five players on the ice (plus goaltenders), four on four, or three on three?”

Ms. Watson explained, “the Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) has announced that things will be back to normal with five-on-five hockey and no restrictions on numbers of players on the bench.” She said everyone (12 and over) will have to be double vaccinated by a certain time frame to take part in minor hockey this season. 

“Are all the usual Island arenas going to be icing a team this year?” asked Mayor Richard Stephens.

“Wiikwemkoong is going to have their own leagues again this year,” said Ms. Watson. “I understand M’Chigeeng is not going have teams, but a lot of players have expressed interest in playing for other teams such as ours.” She told the meeting at this time the M’Chigeeng arena is not scheduled to open this year.

“Are you looking at starting the season at the normal time this year?” asked Councillor Steve Shaffer. 

“The beginning of November is normally the time we get started and the ice is in. We would love it if the ice was in even earlier, but if not, that is okay,” said Ms. Watson. 

“So normal schedule, majority of kids vaccinated in  the end of the season?” said Councillor Shaffer.

Councillor Angela Johnston said if council decides that ice is going to be put in the Mindemoya arena this season they will still need to consider what the long-term future of the arena is. “Hopefully the ice plant in Mindemoya will last the season. In my opinion even if we put the ice in Mindemoya this season, the infrastructure committee needs to come up with a plan for the future.” 

“The Providence Bay arena has the new chiller,” said Councillor Scott. “If the plant goes down in Mindemoya, George (Strain) has said it would take five to seven days to shift over to Providence Bay, but if there is natural ice put in at Providence Bay, it wouldn’t be long before teams could play again.  We are talking about an arena (Mindemoya) that is 75 years plus in age and in desperate need of repair,” he said. 

“We have to step in and if we are going to look at building a new complex we will have to start as soon as possible,” said Chair Scott. “The infrastructure committee will have to look at getting this started at our meeting in October,” he said, noting, “so much concerning plans for the future depend on grants being obtained. But we need to put together a road map as to where we are going on this issue and make some decisions. Angela is right, we can’t wat another three or four years. I’d like to see natural ice in Providence Bay arena this year and get the ice plant going and have the Mindemoya arena open this year. We have to make a choice on where we are going.”

“I agree 100 percent,” stated Councillor Rose Diebolt. “Have the Mindemoya ice plant started for the rink this year and natural ice for Providence Bay. And we definitely need to get going on looking at a new arena/complex being built.”  

Councillor Steve Shaffer said, “I concur. If everyone is willing to accept the flaws, we should open the Mindemoya rink this year.” 

There was discussion about having natural ice in the Providence Bay arena or have an outside rink surface. 

“I agree that natural ice in Providence Bay would be a good idea,” said Councillor Stephens. However, he said, “we keep putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in to the Mindemoya arena, but last year it was open and basically no one used it. We can’t keep spending money every year on an old arena, even if minor hockey and other teams are in it.” 

Chair Scott said, “it hasn’t been hundreds of thousands of dollars we’ve put into the (Mindemoya) arena.” He said in the last few years work has been done on both the east and west walls of the arena, and the ice resurfacer room area was shored up. “But I agree, the arena is at the end of its lifetime. If we have a future vision of building a new complex with an arena, we had better get off our butts and work on it, make some commitments and look at grants that may be available. The (Mindemoya) arena is not going to last many more years.” 

Councillor Stephens said that over the past 20 years, “council has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Mindemoya arena, and it’s not in any better shape than it was 20 years ago.” 

The committee passed a motion to be forwarded to council for consideration that the Mindemoya arena be opened and natural ice be installed in the Providence Bay arena this season.