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Arena awaits wrecking ball

The demolition of the once proud Sylvan Lake Arena is now in the hands of the insurance company, after an emergency town council meeting was held on Tuesday.

And help is pouring in from surrounding communities, offering what they can to help out with the sudden loss of available ice time.

Graham Parsons, town councillor and arena operator, said the town is waiting for the insurance company to look at the collapsed rink and take the next steps.

“We’re waiting to get into the Multiplex (containing a second ice surface, next door), but we can’t get into the Multiplex until the old structure is torn down,” said Parsons. “From what I understand, the insurance company is in charge of the demolition and everybody is working as fast as they can.”

The more than 40-year-old rink collapsed early Monday morning. On Tuesday night, an emergency council meeting was held, briefing council and people on what happened, and what they can expect to happen over the next few days and weeks.

The arena is damage beyond repair. Parsons is unsure when the demolition will begin.

He said there was a sizable gallery of people at the meeting.

“The crowd was basically there for information and to give their support,” said Parsons.

“Which was unbelievable because normally when you have a full gallery, it’s not happy people. These people were good, solid citizens who were concerned.”

In the meantime, Parsons said he has heard from many rinks in the region, offering what they can. Although ice time is limited, especially for practice, he said he has received a lot of support.

“Every community within 50 km has phoned,” said Parsons. “Caroline, Rocky Mountain House, Rimbey, Eckville, Bentley, Lacombe, Ponoka, Clive. Red Deer phoned to say ‘We’d love to help,’ and they would if they could because we helped them when Kin City was down.”

Many more communities phoned offering support. However, practice ice time, especially during the week, will be the biggest challenge with ice time being hard enough to come by under normal circumstances.

The rink has some sentimental value for Parsons. The Sunday before the collapse, they had a tournament cancel so Parsons spent the day cleaning the rink.

“It gave us a chance to get it all organized and scrub it down,” said Parsons. “When I left on Sunday, I went upstairs, went through all the rooms and they were in as good a shape, as clean as they’ve ever been. It was as clean as could be.

“We dressed her up to die.”

He operates the annual Sylvan Lake Hockey Camp, which won’t end with the collapse of the arena. They’re merely moving into the Multiplex a year ahead of time.



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