Groups gear up for a very different ice-use season

For starters, dressing rooms won’t be open

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Ice user groups got the lowdown last week on the Town of Slave Lake’s plans for running the indoor ice rinks this season.

It starts with a later-than-usual date (or dates) for ice installation. And then it gets very strange, with guidelines for reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 being the dominant factor.

“Every league has some significant challenge,” says Garry Roth, the town’s point man for implementing the provincial guidelines.

A week after Roth presented an outline of the arena re-launch plan to town council, he tells The Leader not much has changed. The dates for arena openings could be a bit different than forecast on Aug. 4, he says.

The determining factor “as usual” is the schedule of the refrigeration contractor. Roth said the dates (Sept. 14 for the front ice and Oct. 5 for the back ice) could be either a bit earlier or later.

Otherwise, the decision has been made to not open the dressing rooms for starters. This will obviously create challenges for teams, but dressing rooms would be “really, really difficult to manage,” Roth says, and not just for the town.

The alternative is to require teams to show up with players already dressed for action (except for skates, presumably).

“We know it’s going to be a challenge for some, especially,” Roth says. “We’ll provide space for goalies (to change).”

Likely the Multi-rec Centre in Slave Lake will develop some version of what’s already in place at Grande Prairie’s Coca Cola Centre, which has been running through the summer with modified use of its ice surfaces. It is set up to flow people through the lobby and to their sequestered areas and keep them apart as much as possible, while still allowing on-ice activities and some viewing (though much reduced in numbers) by the public.

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