'We just can’t understand': Saskatoon community associations asked to remove hockey nets from outdoor rinks as COVID-19 precaution
Published Tuesday, December 1, 2020 2:15PM CST Last Updated Tuesday, December 1, 2020 9:08PM CST
SASKATOON -- As community associations across the city work to flood rinks and prepare them for those looking to get out and have some fun this winter, a decision by city administration might put some of the usual fun on ice.
Outdoor rinks will be permitted to open in Saskatoon, but city staffl hopes to prevent unsupervised hockey games being played on them as a COVID-19 precaution.
New community rink COVID-19 guidelines were sent to community associations on Monday, asking that hockey nets be removed.
Outdoor rinks operated by community associations will still be allowed up to 30 skaters on the ice at a time.
The province suspended all team and group sports last week, with the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Practices are still allowed for hockey teams in the under-18 age range, but they can only have groups of eight players taking part.
Andrew Roberts, Saskatoon’s director of recreation and community development, said the city is taking direction from the province’s COVID-19 directives and they want to ensure the community associations are relaying that to members using the rinks.
“We just want all the community associations to be aware of the provincial guidelines that state that during public skating times, no hockey or ringette is allowed,” Roberts said.
Ryan Vanjoff, the rink coordinator and president of the River Heights Community Association, said he understands the intent behind the rule - to adhere to physical distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, he said it needs more clarification.
“We’re excited to hear more, on where we interpret this and how it comes down, but I think there’s some evolution on this that has to happen.”
He was out at the rink Tuesday removing the hockey nets and said the new rules were unexpected. Community association members have spent almost 20 hours getting the rink ready for residents to enjoy, he said.
The rink had new boards put on with advertising already being sold to businesses as a way to fundraise for the community association and hockey lines were painted on to create an authentic hockey experience.
“My phone blew up with a bunch of calls from hockey coaches. We just can’t understand. Why pick on the nets. Just a lot of confusion at this point,” Vanjoff told CTV News.
The order remains in effect until Dec. 18 or until, in the opinion of the Chief Medical Health Officer, there is no longer a public health threat.
Saskatoon minor hockey tweeted that nets will still remain up for practices at City of Saskatoon operated indoor rinks.