Ice Usage Report Missing Pieces

Chatham Memorial Arena Cyclones

A Chatham-Kent hockey team takes instruction at Memorial Arena – Photo by

The recent report stating Chatham-Kent’s ice usage has declined is missing much needed information.

Here are some questions:

  1. When is the ice time NOT being used? This question was raised by several readers. Is it prime time ice in the evenings or weekends sitting open, or is it daytime ice not being used?
  2. Why is ice declining? The report lists several ideas, but it doesn’t give conclusive answers. Are people not renting due to the excessive cost of ice? Maybe, but let’s be honest, private rentals (not by organizations or regular groups) can’t be a large percentage. Is it because of our outdated facilities? Potentially a little, as many tournaments hosted in Chatham-Kent have stopped running because of poor facilities, coupled with a lack of accommodations in town.
  3. Does this mean no new arena? It shouldn’t. These facilities are at the end of their life cycles. A new arena should lower maintenance costs, and allow us to attract additional events, which could help fill some open voids.
  4. What are Wallaceburg and Dresden doing? Not all arenas saw a decline, two saw an increase. Why? If we’re trying to increase use, let’s take a closer look at numbers in Wallaceburg and Dresden, see what these communities are doing, and try to copy cat the model in other communities.
  5. Is it time to close a facility? Bothwell or Ridgetown should likely see their time end. These are the two least used facilities, both are old, and their use can be swallowed by Dresden and Blenheim. If someone in Toronto, or even London said they had to drive 15-20 minutes to get to an arena for practice or a game, people would smile happily. That said, the community of Bothwell has worked their tails off to keep their arena open, and have found many non-ice uses for the rink, which should 100% be considered. Kudos to them.
  6. What would the numbers look like without Municipal programs? The Municipality runs free skates, shinny, senior skates, and tiny tot skates, to name a few. What is the usage of these events like? Are they well attended? Are other groups unable to book additional daytime hours because these poorly attended bookings interfere?

Is there a solution here? Absolutely.

The one true fact in the report points to demographics. Population decline, decreased enrolment in minor ice sports, and an aging population are undoubtedly contributors. But not so much if question #1 regarding when ice is going unused comes back as primarily daytime.

There are likely answers to some, or most, or perhaps all of these questions, and I’d love for Council or Municipal staff in the know to help us clarify what was a speculative and incomplete report.

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  • comment-avatar
    Mark Authier 3 years

    Tim you make some very good points and I would like more info as well and I hope to be getting some of these answers. Here is a question for you. As Tilbury has the second newest arena in C-K and Erickson is probably one of the worst shape arena. Do you think people would be okay with driving 15 mins to Tilbury to rent ice? I know I was asked why people would be upset if we closed Tilbury and they drove to Chatham. With Tilbury being newer we would have to build a twin pad arena we could just build one new arena in Chatham. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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    Wm S. DERBYSHIRE 3 years

    Our Fire Hall in Wheatley does not get used much and DOES NOT MAKE Money. Will it be closed because of these two factors ? If Not, why are they looking at Arenas. The other concern I have is visibility and responsibility. The arena manager in Wheatley is NOT visible. The same manager gets
    paid whether his facility does good or in our case, poorly.
    The reason for this view is, I have lived in Wheatley for 61 years and proudly watched as our community fund raised and achieved the LOWEST ICE TIME COST IN A LARGE AREA. Our arena manager worked hand in hand with the community and was a BIG Reason for our Proud achievements. Ironically, I do Not even know what our Arena manager looks like and I am a season ticket holder for the Wheatley Sharks even though I am gone for over 50% of their season . WHY, I am not naive enough to know that CK will shut our Arena down. I also hear the manager has job security because of his boss and his wife. A direct conflict of Interest that our Village has to suffer for. CK council has to take responsibility also and ask why the mentality in CK is to Shut Down facilities and in Essex County, 1 inch from Wheatley, they are building arenas, and in some cases twinning the
    New arenas?? My last thought is resurrecting community fund raising which brings puts pride and ownership back in the Communities hands. If CK could blanket insurance costs for these fund raisers for it’s communities, perhaps lower costs for arena ice time and for it’s community youth and restore pride and ownership again which Amalgamation took from us.