Alberta is almost a week into phase one of reopening businesses, services, and amenities such as playgrounds and skate parks. Many athletes, parents, and business owners are wondering why ice rinks were not included in the first phase?
Ryan Hilderman, who is a father of hockey players, a coach, and President of P3 Sports Inc says that ice means so much more than people know. "As a hockey dad, hockey coach, and somebody who works with kids for a living, I'm seeing it from all three angles and I’m paying pretty close attention to everything. Any relaunch process has to consider the health and safety for everyone first and foremost, and then there's the economy and the third one is the mental health for the athletes. The longer this goes down the tougher it is on them."
"We've been talking, almost daily with Spray Lakes on getting a plan together to relaunch hockey in a safe environment. We have consulted frontline doctors. We've consulted almost everybody you can think of. They feel as though it's a pretty tight plan. The relaunch is to get kids back on the ice in a safe environment."
To be clear, the relaunch plans are not for full out hockey games. It would be an opportunity for the athletes to suit up and perform drills and training on the ice.
"Everyone would have their own space and that's what our profession is so we've already created what the ice would look like, how it would be divided, how kids could be kept apart."
"It will definitely be different than what they're used to, but we're prepared for that and I think just giving kids something to be happy and excited about is really important for mental health."
While Hilderman believes that Cochrane could be a leader for the province in the reopening of rinks, other locations in Canada have already begun their reopening.
"The Burnaby Winter Club in BC and West Kelowna Warriors are starting to get back to things, so it's not like it's not starting to happen elsewhere."
Currently, ice rinks are included in phase three of Alberta's relaunch strategy, which also includes gyms, swimming pools, recreation centres, and arenas, all of which will reopen with restrictions.
"It has been proposed to MLA's, and to the Alberta government and we're hoping to be an example and lead through the process. What we've created in hockey rinks with the people that we've consulted is literally a zero-touch environment."
"As a parent, I'm not going to put our kids in a position where they're at risk and I would say, yes to being able to go to a rink and participate in a session like this."
Should rinks be reopened in phase one? Let us know here.