With Ice Use Falling, Wallaceburg Bucks The Trend

Wallaceburg Arena

The ice at Wallaceburg Memorial Arena sits vacant less than any other location in Chatham-Kent – CKSN.ca File Photo

Ice use across the Municipality of Chatham-Kent is falling. Wallaceburg, however is bucking that trend seeing increases in ice use, and registration for minor sports.

In fact, ice use in Wallaceburg has risen by 16%, the largest positive change of Chatham-Kent’s 10 arenas.

Wallaceburg Minor Hockey Association’s success at attracting and retaining players seems to be one significant factor in strong registration, and strong ice use numbers.

“Our numbers with WMHA rising can be attributed to our girls program growing as well as it has,” said WMHA president Shane Fraleigh. “Our numbers in our boys program has seen a small increase over last 3 years as well and is holding strong.”

In fact, registration with WMHA is up 38% since 2014. While girls hockey in other communities is struggling, in Wallaceburg, this has become a strong point for the community, something Fraleigh and WMHA are proud of.

“Girls hockey in Wallaceburg has been a huge success due to the fact that we do very well in the standings and at the provincial championships. I believe that we have great coaches in the girls program in Wallaceburg as well.”

The town has also seen a 34% increase in figure skating numbers since 2015.

Another contributing factor, is Wallaceburg’s annual tournaments, including the new Play 4 Brae (December) and the annual Frank Dymock Classic (February).

According to Fraleigh however, keeping the costs down for youth is the key to prolonged success.

“We try in Wallaceburg to keep it as cheap as possible, but with the cost of ice in Chatham-Kent compared to other nearby associations paying anywhere from $50 to $75 cheaper an hour for ice it is making it very difficult to keep hockey cheap enough in Chatham-Kent,” he said, noting the organization also uses 10-15 hours of ice per week at nearby Walpole Island, which offers significantly lower prices than Wallaceburg’s arena.

Overall, with arena use dropping across Chatham-Kent, Wallaceburg has found an equation that works.

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