Few user groups outside the Vanderhoof Arena during an Ice Users Meeting that was initially scheduled for Sept. 29 with the District. As the meeting was cancelled that day, user groups spoke about the Arena in an informal meeting outside. Many expressed frustration over the lack of communication from the District of Vanderhoof in regard to the Arena schedules and protocols. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

Ice Users frustrated with District’s plan for Vanderhoof Arena

Very little is known about the District’s plan for re-opening.

There has been a lot of confusion around when the Vanderhoof Arena will officially open, and how many people will be allowed on ice.

The District of Vanderhoof did not respond to multiple requests of information from the Express about the Arena and what it will look like for users during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, on Sept. 29, due to miscommunication, multiple team managers in Vanderhoof came for an Ice Users Meeting to the Arena, when in fact it had been rescheduled to Friday, Oct. 1. No one had received any information about the change in date.

While standing outside the Arena that day, ice users conveyed their frustration over the lack of information being provided by the District.

Michael Thompson, a member of the Saturday morning mixed group users at the Arena, said he would like to see regulations go back to what they were before March.

“We are not going to have guys that drive in 30 or 40 minutes and not have a change room to use. Or go home driving that far all sweaty. And our goalies, they need a change room. This is very important,” he said.

Multiple groups were also told by District that the Arena would not be open on weekends. But since the official ice users meeting on Oct. 1, that decision has been overturned and now there is weekend ice available to users.

Theresa Hodson Philips, minor hockey coach told the Express that arena users were told that the decision of “no-weekend ice” was made by the Chief Administrative Officer Lori Egli.

“The concern is that this decision was made without consulting any of the user groups to find out if they needed weekend ice, or how no weekend ice would detrimentally impact the groups,” she said.

No official confirmation about weekend ice, has been provided by the District to the Express by press time on Monday, Oct. 5.

Meanwhile, David Simoes, former CHL and BCHL player who now runs a breakfast club in Vanderhoof told the Express that the arena is scheduled to open Oct. 13.

But due to the pandemic, only 20 participants are allowed on ice including coaches, Simoes said.

“We will not be able to maximize the full ice with these numbers or play any hockey games against other competition. Last year, the lowest number of kids on the ice was 24 and highest was 38. This number will take the opportunity away from kids to participate in our free hockey sessions with the breakfast club,” he added.

A couple of ice users are going as a delegation for the Oct. 13 public meeting of council. “We are wanting the dressing rooms to be open mainly for adult users, 40 plus people on the ice at once, spectators in the building. We are coming up with creative ideas that we believe will help with this to keep everyone safe,” Simoes said.

Philips on the other hand said she is concerned over the lack of communication from the District of Vanderhoof.

“I am concerned over lack of communication and sharing of information and the unwillingness to work together on creating a plan that works. The arena staff have been great but their hands are tied,” she said.

“It’s also disheartening that we had to wait this long for an ice users meeting and that in order to request changes to the plan we have to go before council which is another two weeks away – assuming our request to present is even accepted. Had the user groups been involved from the start this process would have been so much more productive.”

READ MORE: Hockey parents unsure about the future of minor hockey with COVID-19

Aman Parhar
Publisher/Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express


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