Wawa Council Defer Revised Arena Ice Rental Policy

Wawa Municipal Council's put the brakes on a revised arena ice rental policy.

While Council had been set to vote on the proposed policy revision, members ended up removing it from list of by-laws up for a vote during last night's regular meeting, following intense discussions on the policy in the preceding Corporate Planning Committee meeting.

During the meeting, Wawa Minor Hockey Association President Peter Moore spoke about his opposition to the policy, particularly criticizing its use of the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as the official start to the ice season - with a one-week "shoulder period" - saying that it may be the date given in the current policy, but that hasn't been enforced in quite some time, further calling it a "random" date that doesn't fit user group needs, and - while it may have made sense when it was initially set decades ago - that date is now "obsolete".

Moore went on to say the usual mid-September making of ice would still be the latest for any community in the region, noting the NEOHA season starts the weekend after Thanksgiving, which would mean the policy date would leave little time for practices - he instead recommended an October 1st start date with a "swing week" only if there's a strong commitment from user groups.

Suggesting the only possible reason for the policy's proposed date is "fiscal restraint", Moore claimed costs associated with the effect of humidity and warmer September weather on ice making or the condition of the arena boil down to "maintenance planning", which he stated is not the concern of user groups, though he did state his association is willing to financially contribute to help cover the cost of early ice, in a three-way split with the Municipality and a corporate sponsor who'd need to be determined.

He further stated that volunteer user groups "run the recreation" in town - claiming the Municipality doesn't offer a lot that people can "sink their teeth into" - but acknowledged user groups do need to step up use of the ice and agreed user rates are low compared to other communities, though he suggested the Municipality do more to help attract or facilitate events like tournaments.

Asked by Councillor Mitch Hatfield why local tournaments aren't possible, Moore bluntly responded that Wawa does not seem to be viewed as a destination but more of an "obligation" for teams that are part of the NEOHA, with larger, southern communities having more of a draw.

Moore did note his son was able to gather over 100 signatures for a petition calling for the mid-September ice date in only a few hours, and asked the policy decision be deferred to 2020.

Mayor Ron Rody noted a few issues with the Community Centre - questioning power bills for the facility and noting that 1996 renovations didn't address insulation in the arena - but spoke in favour of delaying the policy, asking staff be directed to make ice immediately after a "structural review" is conducted on the arena - such a review is supposed to be done every ten years - though the review isn't scheduled until next week - despite being requested back in May.

Community Services and Tourism Director Alex Patterson further noted a primary line from the compressor failed testing and a welder isn't expected until next week, though ice making could theoretically begin right after the review and repairs are complete, expected to take fourteen days.

It's unclear when a revised version of the policy will be brought to Council.