Residents upset about temporary Arena closure


Winchester’s Sam Ault Arena has been closed this week after ice users were greeted with an unwelcome surprise on December 6. That is when the public was informed that Public Skating and the Stick & Puck activity scheduled for later that same day were cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances”. 

Some Arena users have been upset in the wake of the news, and some have pointed out that these circumstances were anything but “unforeseen”. Many locals are reporting that the ice has been in very poor condition since the Arena was first surfaced in the late summer, possibly owing to the hot and humid outdoor weather conditions making it too tricky to create favourable ice conditions indoors.

The Township’s official notice about the Arena closure reads: “In an effort to provide a better standard of service and to ensure the safety of our patrons, our staff team has made the important decision to remove and replace the ice in the Sam Ault Arena effective immediately. The Joel Steele Community Hall is unaffected with this closure.”

The Arena has been in need of routine upgrades and maintenance for some time now. It was recently fitted with a new compressor and water softener system. There are reports that the water softener system may have reduced the ice quality by adding too much salt to the water, and other reports suggest that a bad ice bond has created dangerous chips and holes in the ice and that ice users in Winchester have been getting hurt due to the ice conditions. 

The number of residents affected by the ice closure is large, and includes the local Rockets hockey team, minor hockey leagues, the Winchester Skating Club, and countless recreational ice users. Many parents have expressed anger at the interruption of their children’s recreational activities. A 75th birthday celebration skating event that was planned by the Winchester District Memorial Hospital for December 9 had to be cancelled. The problem affected Chesterville Arena ice users as well, since the ice in Chesterville has been shared during the closure to spread the impact between the two towns, rather than burdening only Winchester ice users. 

The Times reached out to two Arena officials for comment, but received no response by deadline. 

The 10-day ice closure is expected to last until tomorrow, December 15. Since situations can change quickly, it is recommended that readers check the Township website to verify that the ice has reopened on time prior to making any plans. 


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