Elmwood residents are frustrated with their own kind of hockey lockout.
Residents say their children don’t have weekday access to the rink at the Clara Hughes Recreation Centre, located at the former Kelvin Community Centre site and which now operates as a satellite of Bronx Park Community Centre.
As in 2011-12, one rink was rented out to Kildonan Sports for a sponge hockey league in the evenings that generally runs from 6:15 to 9:15 p.m. However, in past years, the site had two full rinks, leaving one open for public use.
Bronx Park Community Centre president Jos Gatein said, because a redevelopment project at the Clara Hughes site began earlier than expected, the community centre was left in a tough spot. A plan to halve the second rink at the site to create a hockey skills area was implemented after Bronx Park had already signed a contract allowing Kildonan Sports to use the rink. A playground will be built where the other half of the rink was located.
Gatein stressed that the project’s timeframe was moved up unbeknownst to him and other Bronx Park board members, and maintained he wouldn’t have signed the sponge hockey contract had he expected the second rink would be affected. He added the Clara Hughes site will not be rented out next winter.
Resident Kelly Livingstone is concerned about what will happen for the rest of this winter. The rink is padlocked on weekday afternoons before sponge hockey, limiting youngsters to the skills area on weeknights.
"We don’t get in there at all Monday to Thursday because it’s locked," said Livingstone, noting she and other residents raised concerns about renting the rink to the sponge hockey league last winter as well.
She added, having the rink available is important to her children, especially her oldest son, Thomas.
"He came here all last winter and skated," said Livingstone. "At 15 years old, he went into community club hockey."
"He wasn’t amazing or anything, but he (had) skated here so much that they couldn’t tell that he was new."
Bronx Park building and grounds convenor Robert Fabbri said on Jan. 8 that changes were implemented that week to allow the rink to be open for children after school. However, the rink was still padlocked just before 5 p.m. that afternoon. Further attempts to reach Fabbri through the community centre before deadline were unsuccessful.
Gatein said he’s willing to work with residents to find a solution, and underlined that the rink is available all weekend.
"They have the rink 24/7 (consistently) from Thursday evening to Monday night," he said. "We’re looking to make Clara Hughes the best facility it can be given what we’re given to work with."