Children who play in Under Nine (U9) and Under Seven (U7) hockey leagues will be allowed to have one parent attend their games at the Memorial Sports Centre.
At Monday night's council meeting, the issue of allowing spectators into these youth league games was discussed by council members. As the ice surfaces began to reopen to the public following COVID-19 related shutdowns, the issue of spectators and how best to manage and clean up after them became a sticking point with many. Originally a significant increase in the price of renting ice time was discussed, in order to allow attendants to clean surfaces between booked ice times, but eventually it was decided that a $7 fee would be implemented for each ice surface user. To this point, spectators have not been allowed in to watch games.
With the passing of the resolution at Monday night's meeting, one spectator per child on the ice at U9 and U7 games will now be allowed into the arena during those games. Councillor Rick Wiedenhoeft stressed that those who do enter the arena to watch their child play follow all of the standard health and safety rules surrounding COVID-19.
“Don't forget it's going to be only one parent per player,” he said.
“Please follow all the procedures for entering and exiting the facility and please wear masks while in the Memorial Sports Centre and while in the viewing area. Don't forget, if this goes well and all spectators obeyed these procedures... we can all look forward to expanding spectators for all age groups, hopefully in the very near future.”
The town's culture and recreation manager Aaron Bisson noted that there are different procedures for entering each arena as a spectator, similar to how entry to the ice surfaces themselves have been modified for safety and social distancing. 52 Ice for Kids spectators will use the westmost entrance and go up the west stairs.
“There are signs throughout the building as well to help get you to the right areas,” Bisson said.
“Seating is going to be in the yellow seats. We ask that you please use social distancing and wear a mask when you're up in the stands and when the activity is over you will leave via the east stairwell.”
Those who are watching a game on the Ice for Kids Arena surface will enter the building from the eastern access located adjacent to the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre parking lot.
“Parents and guardians will go up the east stairwell into the Ice for Kids Arena,” Bisson said.
“Seating will be in the red seats. Please use social distancing and wear a mask. Look for an orange sticker on the seats for helpful guidance on social distancing.”
Following the conclusion of the game, spectators will exit the Ice for Kids Arena through the central staircase and main Memorial Sports Centre door.
Councillor Doug Judson said that the issue of spectators at the arena has been one of “the top three” items on which he's received feedback from the community and as such requested that council provide ongoing update and feedback on the issue at future council meetings as part of the regular COVID-19 update segment.