Director of Recreation Vicki Luttenburger presented a revised Ice In/Ice Out Policy to North Huron council on April 3, which includes updated conditions favourable for minor sports organizations.

Several requests have come in from different organizations asking that the current policy be amended to include pre-season ice time and extended time in case of playoff action.

“Council expressed concerns relative to the number of requests to have the policy amended,” Luttenburger said in her report. “Council felt the policy was too restrictive and directed staff to prepare a draft policy that would allow the flexibility to put ice in early or extended subject to a minimum number of hours being booked and the availability of staff.”

The regular ice season for both Blyth and Wingham will be from Oct. 1 to March 31 annually. 

The new policy says that pre-season or extended ice will only be considered for the two-week timeframe before the start of the regular ice season and/or after the end.

Luttenburger said this recommendation is to “ensure the municipality does not incur hydro surcharges and/or significant hydro costs associated with installing ice during the hottest months of the year.”

The updated policy requires groups requesting to book and pay for a minimum of 35 hours of ice per week for the early installation/extension of ice to be considered.

However, Luttenburger added, “the Recreation and Community Services department is currently experiencing a staffing shortage in the facilities operations division. Although council has approved hiring additional facility operators, the hiring and training process takes 4-6 weeks to complete. 

“Therefore, it is unlikely these positions will be filled to allow for the installation of pre-season ice in Wingham. Even if the Wingham Minor Hockey Association and the Ironmen did commit to book and pay for a minimum of 35 hours of ice per week for the 2022-23 pre-season, staffing shortages would prevent the township from being able to fulfill this request for the 2022/23 season.”

Luttenburger said, “As indicated in the report, costs associated with operating an ice pad in September were not included in the 2022 Operating Budget. Depending on the start date, the hydro costs associated with installing and maintaining an ice pad for September usage range from $20,000-35,000.”

Luttenburger ended her report with the following recommendation: “The provision of pre-season ice/extended Ice is a discretionary service provided by some municipalities. There is a considerable cost to the taxpayer to provide this level of service to the community and surrounding municipalities due to the limited hours of use. 

“Based on the cost savings achieved in 2020 and 2021 through the delayed installation of the ice surface at the North Huron Wescast Community Complex, Council may want to consider eliminating this service altogether or permanently reducing the number of weeks available for ‘pre-season ice’ to reduce the cost to the taxpayer.”

By Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 07, 2023 at 07:30

This item reprinted with permission from   Advance Times   Wingham, Ontario
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