Jeff Green | Aug 12, 2020
The Frontenac Community Arena will welcome hockey players back on September 18th this year. Normally Tim Laprade, who oversees the arena in his role as Arena and Recreation Supervisor for South Frontenac Township would be talking about the capital improvements that have been completed this summer. They include a new compressor and an ammonia chiller system that will make the arena safer and easier to operate for the next 20-30 years. He would also talk about the grant that has been applied for from the federal and provincial government which could enable the arena board to replace the floor next year to assure the viability of the entire facility for decades to come.
But instead the inevitable attention of the arena board and staff have been about how to make the arena accessible to users this fall while complying with provincial directives and recommendations from Kingston Frontenac Public Health.
“It’s a massive puzzle trying to interpret and decipher provincial regulations in order to draft a return to hockey plan,” said Laprade, “and while some might think we are being too restrictive, we would rather do it this way and loosen up the rules as the season goes on, than find we have been too loose and have to impose new restrictions or have to close down.”
There will be no canteen and no fans in the stands this fall, and dressing rooms will not be open. Players will be expected to arrive in their playing gear, and will be assigned a spot to put their skates on and leave their shoes. Masks will be mandatory except when on the ice or the players bench. It will also be no contact hockey for all age groups.
It will be impossible to maintain the full two metre social distancing while playing, but Laprade said that the province is calling for no “prolonged or deliberate contact, and we are going to have to figure how that translates to hockey”
The arena has a limit of 50 people at a time, not including staff, which will limit who can come into the building at any given time. Players will arrive at their appointed time, and the doors will not open until the previous group has left, through another door, and exposed surfaces door knobs, etc, have been disinfected using foggers that the arena has purchased. Once the doors are opened, players will be screened, and their name and contact information will be gathered, to make contact searches easy if any cases arise that are identified with the arena.
The full set of rules are available at frontenacarena.com by clicking the COVID-response button.
“We think we have it all in place but until the players come, we won’t know for sure,” said Laprade. “One thing I do know is that kids, everyone, needs to exercise and the arena is important for that through the winter season. As far as the dressing rooms, ours are small compared to other arenas. And the health unit recommended that we keep them closed, so we are confident it is the right decision to do so.”
The arena is run on a carefully constructed operating budget for the arena, with a mix of users fees, canteen sales, fundraising and advertising revenue, all of which are designed to create a break-even operating budget. “this year’s budget is going to be a bit of a mess,” said Laprade.
Hockey will also be restricted to local teams. Regional travel will be out this year.
South Frontenac is also completing plans to open township halls in September. The township operates Glendower Hall on Westport Road, the Storrington Centre on Battersea Road, as well as the community room at the Sydenham branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library.
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