All Of Chatham-Kent’s Arenas Will Reopen Soon, Council Decides
Chatham-Kent’s arenas will be open soon.
Council passed a motion entered by Councillor Melissa Harrigan Monday night to re-open all of Chatham-Kent’s arenas, restoring service levels provided prior to COVID-19.
“Across our communities stakeholder groups have been wondering whether or not their local arena is going to open,” Councillor Harrigan told CKSN.
“These include groups like figure skating clubs, minor hockey leagues, and men’s and women’s recreational hockey. Knowing what ice is available to them is crucial to their planning for the season.”
Harrigan said the decision will also help the loss of groups and users to areas outside of Chatham-Kent. This trend of sending clubs and athletes outside of the area due to a lack of service has caused major issues for local sports organizations.
“For those of us who live on what I would call “border regions” of Chatham-Kent, there is a risk that CK would “lose” the bookings to other areas. In my ward, I was receiving concerned calls daily,” Harrigan explain. She represents Ward 1 – West Kent, which includes Tilbury and Wheatley.
After gathering expressions of interest from user groups in August, the Municipality received $5.8 million in Provincial funding to help return budgeted service levels to normal following COVID-19.
For Harrigan, this was all the justification needed to get arenas, long considered hubs of community, back up and running.
“For me, this easily justified the opening of our community arenas. Many groups were hesitant to book, or even request ice, because of the unknown if arenas were going to open.”
Now, that barrier is out of the way.
The motion directs staff to open arenas, as was budgeted or planned “prior to COVID.” The simple way to say that is all Chatham-Kent arenas will be opened. I expect this will happen by October 1,” Harrigan added.
This re-opening will focus on user groups who complete the Municipality’s return-to-play protocols, as well as governing bodies such as hockey, ringette, and figure skating.
Right now, programming such as public skating will not begin, but Harrigan is hopeful these options will also return in the not too distant future.
“I’m hopeful if we all stay diligent, that will come soon.”