By Darryl G. Smart
To say Tuesday’s Norfolk County council meeting is a big one, couldn’t be more of an understatement, especially when it comes to local sports.
During the final meeting of the summer, hundreds of local kids could be affected by council’s decision to allow or disallow ice in Waterford’s Tricenturena this summer.
It all came about during last week’s meeting, when Ward 7 Coun. Kim Huffman put out a notice of motion to have no ice in Waterford until the noise generated from a compressor, installed in 2019, is properly suppressed.
Norfolk County designated the Tricenturena for summer ice after it closed the Simcoe Recreation Centre Arena in 2019 to make room for the new Simcoe Seniors Centre project. During that spring, the condenser unit for the refrigeration system began to leak, closing the Tricenturena until it was replaced with one from the Recreation Centre arena.
That new condenser became a noise issue for neighbouring residents on Main Street South and a formal complaint was lodged in 2019. Norfolk County did its due diligence and installed a low noise fan and water silencer on the condenser. The install lowered the decibel level from the low 60s to 57dBA. Unfortunately, to be compliant with the Ministry of Environment noise standards, the Tricenturena needs to be at 55dBA.
To be compliant, Norfolk County again has done everything they can to solve the problem and hired a firm to build a sound suppression wall. Unfortunately because materials have been tough to come by during the COVID-19 pandemic, the plans to build this wall have been delayed until October.
As a result of these circumstances and the notice of motion, Tuesday’s meeting is about deciding whether ice goes in – which was supposed to already begin being made last week – or stays out until the suppression wall is built.
The consequences of no ice this summer, let alone until some time in October is not a good situation for many.
“We are deeply disappointed in the decision to halt the production of summer ice at the Waterford arena,” former NHLer Dwayne Roloson and his wife Melissa wrote in an email to Smart Sports Network. “This decision will affect upwards of 300 local skaters and hockey players, many of whom faced mental health challenges this past year (because of COVID-19).”
“Our older son (Brett) must meet the requirements for the Division I hockey scholarship he receives from Lake Superior State University that requires him to arrive at school in mid-August in game-ready condition,” the Rolosons said. “Our younger son (Ross) must report in game-ready condition to play for the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League) as he pursues his goal of playing Division I college hockey. Other Norfolk County skaters that planned to use the Waterford ice with them face similar expectations by European hockey clubs, the American Hockey League, the ECHL, in addition to many Ontario junior hockey leagues.”
For other younger players, summer ice allows them to prepare for minor hockey tryouts that are set to begin right after Labour Day weekend.
Now let’s talk about September.
If this happens, not only will Waterford’s arena be out of commission, the Langton Arena ice is slated to go in after the Langton Fair at the end of September. That arena won’t be available until October. Also factor in that the Delhi Arena is still being used as a vaccination clinic, and the Simcoe Recreation Centre is no longer in use. This leaves Simcoe’s Talbot Gardens and the Port Dover Arena responsible for all seven minor hockey associations, three figure skating clubs, and a slew of other user groups when their respective seasons start.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS
Option 1 – Go ahead with the ice. Honestly this seems like the easiest suggestion, despite the unfortunate noise for the neighbouring houses. A great hypothetical comparison would be if Good Humor-Breyers suddenly had a noise problem. I don’t think you could close the factory until it was fixed. Trying to fix the problem in a reasonable way would be the solution. That’s exactly what Norfolk has tried to do, albeit it’s already been over a year.
Option 2 – Move the vaccination clinic in Delhi to the Tricenturena and put the ice in Delhi. The Delhi Arena is the only other arena that can make summer ice, so swapping the two locations could be an option. The only problem with this is all of the red tape and hoops the county and the health department would have to jump through to make it happen. It’s a solution that would take up a lot of time, and money.
Option 3 – Close the Tricenturena down until the wall is built. Hundreds of kids would be without summer programming, and trying to fit every user group in the county on two ice pads would be a nightmare for everyone. It’s already created a social media divide between community members. Norfolk has always been about working together. This may be a great time to show tha with a sensible solution.
Waterford Tricenturena Skating Club president Jennifer Bard understands and sympathizes with all sides.
“I truly feel for the neighbours of the arena,” Bard said. “It appears there is a legitimate noise complaint and it needs to be fixed and addressed by Norfolk. I don’t know exact numbers but I would guess thousands of kids use that arena every year. This past year has left our kids without a lot of sports. Our community needs programming at the Waterford Arena. Losing ice time this summer or the fall could be devastating to Waterford’s kids. It really should be about the kids.”