Skating competition moves to Smithers

Lack of ice means it can’t be held here

Thanks to the cooperation of ice users in Smithers, the Houston Figure Skating Club is moving a major regional competition to that community.

A delay in the in-service ice date at the Claude Parish Memorial Arena, had meant the club can’t host the Kla How Ya (it means ‘welcome’) competition, which draws skaters and their families from around the region, in Houston.

The Smithers dates remain the same as had been scheduled here, Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

“[We] would like to thank Smithers Minor Hockey, Smithers Christian Hockey, and the Rubber Puckers for so graciously moving their ice around to accommodate us and make this work,” said Stephanie Auston, the Houston Figure Skating Club’s skating director said late last week.

Although now moved, the Houston club remains the official host of the event which is rotated through northwestern communities each year.

News that the ice at the Claude Parish Memorial Arena won’t be in in time for the event had devastated the local club, leading to fears it wouldn’t be able to host the event until its turn came around again in 2027.

Club volunteers, coaches and parents had been planning the event for a year.

Auston noted that moving the event will add difficulties.

“There are certainly challenges, our club is hosting an event in another community, there will be winter driving challenges, some will have to get hotel rooms as the days will be long and with fewer volunteers, there will be a bigger strain on our hard working volunteers,” said Auston.

“The skaters will have minimal ice (approximately 10 practice days to prepare) whereas other clubs have been practising three to five days per week since Labour Day or earlier,” she added.

And when the ice does go in at the arena here, Auston said the club will then focus its energies on preparing for its end-of-season carnival next spring.

“Figure skating is a struggling sport in some of these smaller communities (Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Stewart and Fort St. James clubs have all folded over the last 5-10 years,” Auston noted.

“There are so many challenges that are faced – lack of qualified coaches, lack of ice, less funding from the government — to name a few,” she said.

“The Houston Figure Skating Club continues to thrive, despite the setbacks and we are confident that we will continue to do so.”

The delay in ice at the arena here is due to the length of time it is taking to install a new refrigeration system.

Compressors for the new plant arrived two and a half weeks in September than originally scheduled, setting back the installation start.

“The refrigeration technician expects to complete the install in eight weeks, but has strongly advised we schedule 10 weeks to successfully complete install before arena staff begin making ice,” District of Houston leisure services director Tasha Kelly said in a memo to ice users.

“Thus, we do not foresee users on the ice until Dec. 4. I can understand that this news is very disappointing and will be strongly felt across our community.”

A plant replacement followed an incident in Fernie in October 2017 in which three people were killed because of an ammonia leak at the arena there.

That prompted a province-wide inspection of refrigeration plants with many placed on the list for replacement to meet new standards.

“Following the Fernie incident in 2017, the demand for new refrigeration plants across the province has drastically increased; driving costs up and availability of technicians down. As costs continue to trend upwards, there is no breaking point in sight, as the few refrigeration companies in the B.C. are overwhelmed with work,” Kelly noted.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

DOH
Provincial grant tapped to finance downtown project

Butler and 10th next on improvement list

RDBN. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Houston Soccer club. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston Soccer gets record number of registrations

Club will have a soccer season amidst COVID restrictions

District of Houston
Safe Restart grant spending firmed up

Will help cover losses from recreation fees

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read