Despite the arena being closed this winter, Fernie will still have a place to skate, thanks to a generous donation from the Calgary Flames Foundation.
After hearing about the tragedy at the Fernie Memorial Arena and subsequent closure of the facility, they have offered the city an outdoor rink package, which includes a set of boards to build the project.
“We believe in the power of sport and the benefit of providing communities opportunities to play,” said Candice Goudie, executive director of the Calgary Flames Foundation. The organization refurbishes outdoor rinks in their community and Goudie says they are looking forward to working with the City of Fernie, the Lion’s Club, Canadian Arena Products and the volunteers involved.
Fernie city council approved the construction of the NHL-size rink, which will be built outside the Aquatic Centre.
“We are so grateful that the Calgary Flames Foundation approached us with this offer to bring skating back to our community,” said Mayor Mary Giuliano. “We are thrilled that thanks to this donation, and the efforts of the Lion’s Club and other community volunteers, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy this outdoor rink over the holidays.”
One resident, concerned about how the rink may affect neighbors in the community spoke to council during the public comment period on November 27.
He said that there should have been public notification or consultation about the plans beforehand.
“I understand your concerns,” said Giuliano, adding that the City does not expect there to be excessive noise late at night, or bright lights interfering with the residential units nearby.
“I would like to encourage a positive energy in our community,” said Councillor Jon Levesque.
Coun. Ange Qualizza agreed, stating that the Calgary Flames Foundation has provided Fernie with a tremendous gift.
A group of volunteers have come forward to help build the rink, led by the Fernie Lion’s Club. The club is leading the preparations for the site, which is already underway.
The City of Fernie’s volunteer committee, the Leisure Services Advisory Board will be helping coordinate maintenance of the rink alongside City staff as well as assist user groups in planning events or programming for the rink.
Generous donations in both time and resources have been made by several local businesses: The Fernie Lions Club, Mitchell Excavating Ltd., Morrissey Aggregates, Foothills Silva Culture, R&K Excavating Services, Pace Excavating, Cameron Enterprises Ltd., Fernie Ready Mix, Graceland Builders, Shoesmith Construction Ltd., Copper-Tip, Cook’s Electrical, Fernie Elks Club, Fernie Auto Parts and Mow & Snow.
The intention is to have the rink ready for the holiday season, with side boards being erected by mid-December.