Mooretown Minor hockey may move some teams to Walpole Island arena so parents can help young players

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Alex Kurial
Local Journalism Initiative

The Mooretown Minor Hockey Association has made plans to have their U-9 players start the season at Walpole Island if the no-spectators rule stays in place at the Moore Sports Complex.
St. Clair Township and arena staff have so far held firm on their decision to reopen the rink without spectators. Council heard from association coach and VP of risk management Geoff Dale, about parents concerns of very young players being left without parental guidance.
“Parents have severe concerns about dropping kids off at the rink… they don’t feel it’s realistic for a kid to be dropped off at a rink and know where to go,” Dale said Sept. 8. Council and arena staff said they would revisit the matter at the next council meeting on Sept. 21. But with the season set to begin Oct. 3, the association members weren’t waiting.
On Sept. 9 the association put out a notice saying they had booked 10 ice times at the Walpole Island arena for the Oct. 3-4 weekend. The First Nation community is currently allowing one parent per child to attend practice.
“The biggest reason why we went to Walpole for the one week is just so we have an option for our younger players that gets them a parent there,” says Dale. “They’re not a spectator – it’s their parent.”
But Dale is hopeful it won’t be necessary to use the ice downriver. Within an hour of posting their intent, Mooretown staff reached out to the association to schedule a meeting to discuss options. “Our hope is that every kid is playing in Mooretown come October,” says Dale. “We see their concerns, they see ours, it’s just meshing them.”

“We’re making excellent progress with that, they’ve been very good with us.”
Mooretown is not the only arena to struggle with ways to balance COVID-19 capacity limits and the concerns of parents. In Sarnia, the city barred all spectators on Aug. 20 after the rules were broken. Only on Sept. 14 did Sarnia begin allowing people back in the stands. Twenty people, or one person per participant, can attend per session.
Dale says Mooretown Minor Hockey is asking for the same one parent per child ratio for their younger players. He’s confident parents won’t end up in a situation that causes a shutdown.
“At the end of the day it’s on our parents and it’s on our association to prove that we can avoid what Sarnia did,” says Dale.
“We don’t want to backtrack. It’s difficult enough getting permission to get in the rink the first time, let alone the second time.”
Dale says even if council and arena staff still say no next week, they are ready to return to Mooretown when the time is right.
“If they say no, that they want to give it a couple more weeks, then our first week will be run out of Walpole. And then we would just go week by week at that point,” says Dale.
“We’re working very well with staff… we just had to do what we had to do to ensure that our younger age groups were covered. We’re very confident that we’re going to be able to work something out.”