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How and when hockey returns to local communities remains in question

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM/KAWARTHA: As municipalities prepare their recovery and reopening plans, and the COVID-19 pandemic situation moves forward, how or if minor hockey will return in the fall remains unknown. City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham told reporters recently the City doesn’t know yet how many of their arenas they’ll need to open in the fall, or how many minor hockey groups will apply for ice time. “We don’t even know what is going to happen with junior hockey. Will we be opening 10 arenas come September? Probably not. We’ll probably temporarily open fewer than that. We’ll see what the demand is, and go accordingly,” Mayor Letham said, during a telephone press conference, on Wednesday, July 8th. At a meeting on Monday, June 29th, Scugog staff, in a municipal financial projection report, stated they may only need to reopen the Scugog Community Recreation Centre in the fall, while keeping the Blackstock Arena closed, and expect to see a loss of revenue due to less ice usage. “Hockey Canada and all the ice sport associations are trying to work out how [games] can be played safely, and we expect that overall enrolment and usage will be down. So, if we’re not using 100 percent of the ice in the Scugog Community Recreation Centre, financially it wouldn’t make sense to open up the ice at Blackstock [arena], which would cost more because it’s an older facility,” Carol Coleman, Scugog’s Director of Public Works, Parks and Recreation stated during the meeting. But in the report, staff labeled 2020 fall arena operations as “one of the largest unknowns at this time.” In early June, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney put out a statement about the ‘eventual return to hockey process’ in the country. “Currently there are no Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities being conducted, and we are working with our Members on their return-to-hockey plans. After ongoing discussions with the board of directors, our chief medical officer, the 13 Members and public health authorities across the country, it has been determined that the best approach for a return to hockey in Canada is to allow each member the opportunity to work with authorities in their respective regions, to determine when it is safe to return to the ice in areas that fall under their jurisdiction. We expect the timing of each member’s return to hockey will be different, but will be based on the advice of their government and public health authority,” Mr. Renney’s statement read. The statement also addressed the speed of the return of hockey to communities. “Hockey Canada knows the game will look quite different, and the return will happen at different speeds and at different times across the country. Be assured, we continue to work on our multi-faceted return-to-hockey plan that includes health and safety regulations, communications and seasonal structure. As with so many people across the country, we look forward to returning to the game when it is safe to do so, and we will support our 13 Members as we continue to work towards getting back on the ice.”

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