Armstrong questions whether Brooke-Alvinston’s arena should open

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The opening ceremonies for the Hayter Memorial tournament in Brooke-Alvinston in 2017. The community will open its arena Oct. 5 to minor hockey and figure skating but there will be no spectators. It's also not clear whether tournaments like this one will be able to go ahead.

Brooke-Alvinston’s arena will be opening in a week, but at least one councillor isn’t sure it is a good idea.

Brooke-Alvinston council agreed Thursday to bar spectators from the arena this year because of concerns about COVID-19. A report from Public Works Manager Randy Hills says minor hockey and skating will be allowed up to 50 people in the arena at one time, and they will manage who it is. But allowing spectators to walk in to watch will not be allowed.

“By eliminating spectators, the organizations are able to navigate these unprecedented times in developing their own training and practice sessions,” reads Hills report.

But Councillor Jamie Armstrong says the municipality should not be opening the arena, especially since the province recently reduced the number of people allowed in one space indoors from 50 to 10 in private gatherings. The new rule does not apply to places like arenas and gyms.

“I personally think that we should just not open because we are opening ourselves up to a whole can of worms,” says Armstrong. “People with over 10 (people in the family) can’t even have Thanksgiving, and we’re talking about open an arena that’s got all kinds of families. So it makes absolutely zero sense.”

Armstrong added police were called to an area family’s home this weekend because they had too many people in one place. He believes the arena will face the same scrutiny.

“If you don’t think people are going to be watching the arena and start making reports, and start bringing police in, because they don’t think that people are following the rules, we’re going to get dragged into this, whether we like it or not.”

Councillor Frank Nemcek disagreed. He says the local children are looking forward to getting back on the ice.

“Maybe not have the grandparents in the arena, like it says in the report, but it’s not fair to all those kids that we just close the door,” says Nemcek.

Mayor Dave Ferguson says the municipality will follow all the rules and deal with any problems as they come. ” If we have an outbreak in Alvinston we better very quickly have emergency control put together and deal with it then.”

The ice at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre will go in this week and be ready for hockey and figure skating by Oct. 5.

There will be no drop in skating programs this year.