Ice usage fees have been reduced by nearly a third for some user groups at the Claude Parish Memorial Arena.
The 33 per cent discount, effective immediately until the end of the season, is an “act of goodwill” for ice user groups that have experienced hardships due to the delayed installation of the ice, states a District of Houston staff report.
The delay meant problems for user groups, including the Houston Figure Skating Club, which moved its hosting of the Kla How Ya, an event that attracts skaters from all over the region, to Smithers.
Kla How Ya Chair Amanda Tobin said the skating club is pleased with the discount, which applies to “minor ice users” for all regular ice usage until the end of the 2019/20 ice season.
“It is great to see council recognize the effect on users that the late start has, and to try and compensate for it,” Tobin told the Houston Today. “We were, of course, disappointed that we could not host our competition at home, but we are grateful that we were still able to make it work.”
Tobin said the delay was unfortunate, but that it’s time to move forward.
“We can analyze and discuss all the downsides of the late start until the cows come home, but it doesn’t change it, and it was not any one person’s fault,” Tobin said. “Now as a club it’s our job to move forward and enjoy the rest of our skating season.”
Due to the ice delay, the skating club has decided not to host its annual Christmas Gala this year.
Instead, the club will host a Kla How Ya Showcase Gala on Friday to give Houston residents a chance to see the individual and group performances that took place in Smithers. The free event, which is open to the public, will be held at the Claude Parish Memorial Arena at 6:30 p.m.
In a statement to the Houston Today, the Houston Minor Hockey Association also said their members are pleased with the new discount.
“Our association is pleased that the district has recognized the impacts of the shortened season and provided a proactive solution to assist in offsetting the cost to our association,” reads the statement.
Local ringette players were also affected by the delay, with some players travelling to Burns Lake once a week to practice. In a statement to the Houston Today earlier this season, the Houston Ringette Association said the delay placed “a great burden” on players, putting them at a disadvantage when they go to tournaments.
The ice rink opened to the public last week following setbacks with the installation of a new ammonia plant. Setbacks included compressors for the new plant arriving weeks later than originally scheduled, and a first round of tenders being in excess of what the district had budgeted to replace the existing but aging plant.
Due to the delay, the municipality made the arena floor available for dryland training and other uses at no charge prior to the ice installation.
The district has also entered into a contract with Elaine Hamblin, contractor of the arena’s concession, to extend the concession lease by one additional year.
The ammonia plant replacement follows an incident in Fernie in October 2017 in which three people were killed because of an ammonia leak at the local arena. That prompted a province-wide inspection of refrigeration plants with many placed on the list for replacement to meet new standards.