One Surrey councillor says the city’s plan to open just three of its nine rinks will force hockey players and figure skaters to use private facilities, including some in neighbouring municipalities.
Councillor Linda Annis said the three sheets of ice will open in a phased approach as part of Surrey’s COVID-19 Restart Plan.
Annis said two rinks at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex will reopen on Aug. 17, followed by the third there on Sept. 1. If all goes according to plan, she said two additional sheets of ice will reopen at North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex on Sept. 14.
In a typical season, local hockey associations need ice starting in mid-August, for rep tryouts and camps.
“There are more than 4,000 Surrey kids who are looking forward to hitting the ice this season,” Annis says. “Now they and their families are being forced to look at buying ice times in other cities. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that Surrey families have to look outside their own city when we have great facilities right here at home.”
She says the reopening of Surrey’s rec centres is being delayed in order to save money to pay for the city’s new police force, but that narrative is dismissed by Councillor Laurie Guerra, chair of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee.
“It is unfortunate that there has been misinformation circulated about the closures of our recreational facilities,” Guerra said in a city-issued news release on Friday (July 10).
“Our recreational facilities were closed on March 15 due to COVID-19 and not from budgetary pressures. Since June 1, we have re-opened to the public a number of outdoor facilities and programs. We are continuing to develop plans for the opening of additional facilities in the coming weeks and are working closely with our sports community on safety plans that will prepare them to return to sport when the facilities re-open.”
Guerra says the reopening of Surrey’s parks, rec and culture facilities will depend on four criteria, including the ability to comply with new Provincial Health Order, reasonable public demand for services, financial viability, and public and employee safety measures in place.
Several private rinks are already open across Metro Vancouver, Annis notes.
“Where there’s a will there’s a way, but right now there’s no will in the mayor’s office in Surrey,” Annis says in a news release Monday (July 13). “Reopening these important public facilities in Surrey should be our priority after so many months in the grip of Covid-19. Instead, we’re telling Surrey families to look elsewhere for ice time while our city’s rinks sit empty.”
The city’s public playgrounds reopened on June 1, followed by outdoor pools June 27 and outdoor fitness classes on July 16.