By way of introduction, I am a husband, father of three boys ages 12, seven and five, a career man, taxpayer, coach, volunteer and optimist.
I was presented with this opportunity to communicate my stake in the decommissioning of Civic Arena.
My position is that this needs to be done now rather than later both from a financial and community perspective. The economy is in a downward trend of the economic cycle, which means labour and material is more available which will also help to stimulate the economy and reduce cost. Also, a large segment of the community uses this facility for recreational purposes. Without it, we stand to push these people outside of our community and the revenues that go with it or abandon them altogether.
I volunteer extensively at Civic Arena, mentoring and training groups of children from this community aspiring to be part of something stitched together by the idea of fun and team spirit. As an adult responsible for the safety of these kids during our events, I have concerns about the integrity of Civic Arena. The structure poses real threats to our safety and does not meet my expectations or standard of living.
As a coach of both lacrosse and hockey, I am privileged to meet these kids season after season and watch them develop. It goes without saying that the heritage in Civic Arena is deep and holds great value to me but it also holds concern.
When I walk through the doors into the dressing room corridor, I am met by the smell of urine. I hold my head high and push through the stench as I approach the dressing room. My son slams his shoulder against the door. It doesn’t open so I go to the rink attendant, who says, “It’s open, you just have to slam it.” Sure enough, it was unlocked but wedged shut.
Kids could not have opened that door. If they were in the room and an emergency occurred, they would not be able to open it. As I enter the dressing room, I am greeted by 11-year-olds smiling ear to ear, scrambling to get their gear on.
As we gather to warm up, I look up and see a web of old timber trusses, stitched together by fasteners from the “olden days” as my son says. The bleachers are thick in decades of paint layers and made entirely of wood.
I send the kids to run up and down the bleacher stairs, thinking, “Don’t fall.” The rise and run of the stairs are not to code and I fear for them as they navigate through the task. They all return and we go outside. We do stretching on the side area next to the building and then go for a jog.
I lead the team on to the road, behind the building and into the parking lot. All the while, worried about traffic, yelling “safe decisions” to the kids as we progress around the building.
We return to the dressing room and as we change. My son says this place is like a jail. His imagination takes off thinking of how this place resembles Alcatraz. Another boy says, “I wonder why the floor is coming apart? If we had to escape I bet we could dig through. Why don’t they take care of this place coach?”
As we approach the gate to go on the ice, we notice the ice isn’t resurfaced.
The Olympia has failed. So we skate with snow once again. No problem though. We set up and put our kids through the drills – a stick check drill to demonstrate coach on coach.
I pin my co-coach’s stick to the boards and he comes away bleeding. It turns out the penalty box door appeared to be shut. It was not locked but wedged shut. He cut his hand severely on a broken piece of plastic on the door itself.
I took a skate around to see if there were any more broken pieces to which I found many.
In conclusion, my stake is about the safety and dignity of our community’s children. It is my opinion that neither is best served under the roof of Civic.
So please join me in saying yes to the referendum and support this worthy project to borrow now to build a twin arena at Kal Tire Place.