New proposed rec centres to provide eventual relief to Calgary hockey players
The Brentwood Sportsplex Centre, in northwest Calgary, was forced to close its ice surface for the remainder of the hockey season due to a mechanical issue with the arena's chiller.
"It's something you can't replace overnight," said Steve Dietrich, Brentwood arena manager. "It's like an eight-to-10-week delivery. We tried to keep it going, but mechanically it just had trouble running.
"We won't have ice back in here until August. The end of the season is always March, so we only lose two months."
The Westwood Warriors call the Brentwood Arena home and are now being forced to play elsewhere due to the non-existent ice at the their home arena.
With help from Hockey Calgary and the surrounding communities, the Warriors games and practices have been re-scheduled – most of which are now taking place at the newly opened South Fish Creek Recreation Complex.
"The timing getting from the far northwest to the deep southwest after work is going to be tough," said Westwood president Grace Lane. "We have a few more shared ice times, but other than that we are doing pretty well. Some of our teams have to play two games in a day and some teams have to play five games in five days."
For example, the Westwood PeeWee 1 team will play five games in seven days in February, playing the final two contests on the 25th of February.
New ice on its way
Two days after Brentwood shut its doors to hockey players, Calgary received some good news regarding the lack of available ice time in the city with the approval of four new recreational centres, including six new sheets of ice, which will be spread out between the S.E. and the N.W. quadrants of the city.
Shane Keating, alderman for Ward 12, is fully on board with the initiative.
"It's about fulfilling an absolute desperate need in all the areas," Keating said. "There is nothing to worry about. The funding is available and the debt is there. We also have to thank the developers because they've agreed to pay these acreage levees.
"$50 million is coming from their reserve fund alone."
Late last year, the city received sudden news that a public-private partnership (P3) funding application, intended to help fund the centres, was denied by Public-Private Partnerships Canada.
|New Recreational Centres
11300 Rocky Ridge Rd. N.W.
Size: 350,000 to 400,000 sq. ft.
Amenities: A 25, 8-10 lane pool, a boarded ice rink, which can be used for recreational ice skating, four indoor fields, three full courts, a fitness center, squash and racquetball courts, 18,000 sq.ft. library, two outdoor artificial turf fields,
Seton Recreational Facility
18150 56 Street S.E.
Size: 300,000 to 350,000 sq. ft.
Amenities: 52m, 8-10 competition pool, two hockey arenas, two indoor fields, three full court gymnasiums, squash and racquetball courts, 25,000 sq. ft. library, day care facility, outdoor basketball courts
Quarry Park Recreational Facility
108 Quarry Park Rd. S.E.
Size: 75,000 to 100,000 sq. ft.
Amenities: 25m, 6 lane pool, one full court gymnasium, 10,00 sq. ft. library
Great Plains Recreational Facility
5749 76 Ave. S.E.
Size: 150,000 to 200,000 sq. ft.
Amenities: Two hockey rinks on with advanced seating, two box lacrosse indoor pads.
Source: The City of Calgary
Hockey Calgary president Todd Millar is excited about the approval of the new facilities, but still believes there is a greater demand yet to be met.
"That's great news for Hockey Calgary," Millar said. "The number from a development model perspective has always been targeted at nine (new rinks) given the current state of players at 13,500 and using the ratios inside of Hockey Canada. But we're that much closer and that's great news."
Millar added, "That just leaves the other underlying issue, that we're upgrading our current facilities to make sure they don't go down, similar to what we experienced with Brentwood.
"You add six new great sheets, or four new great facilities, but if you still have tired facilities that are going to go down on you than the net impact might not be that positive."
The six new rinks that were approved by city council, along with the three new rinks that opened for city use at Canada Olympic Park, the new arena at Flames Community Arenas, and the two new rinks that recently opened in Fish Creek, clearly show that hockey, ice skating, and general public recreation have become priorities in the city.
Ice time still an issue
Despite the development of the new arenas being put into motion, finding ice time currently is still quite difficult for minor hockey teams in Calgary.
The Glenlake Bantam 2 team, coached by Michael Clowes, is just one team having trouble finding adequate practice time for their players.
"We probably get assigned three practices every two weeks," Clowes said. "We probably get two per week on a good week, and we end up dividing it in half, so we only really get one."
Clowes said it's not as if the kids he coaches are preparing for the NHL, but that he admits that the lack of practice is tough for the team to properly prepare for games – especially if they only have half of the ice to work with.
"They give you two ice times a week, but you end up with one full ice time a week," he said. "That's from a community that is fairly affluent, that has three rinks [Flames Community Arenas] that they own a partnership in. Then they go look for city ice."
- By derrick newman