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Venue for ‘chem-free’ grad in question


For the last two years, the ’52 Canadians Arena has been an ideal spot to hold the annual “chem-free’ grad festivities, but changes to fire regulations for the building may force the party to another locale.

“We’re still not sure if we can use the old ice surface,” committee co-chair Patti Boileau said Monday. “We still have to talk to the fire chief.”

Last year, the arena underwent renovations and, in so doing, fell under newer Ontario fire regulations. Since the arena has no sprinkler system, certain factors need to be taken into consideration for non-sporting activities there.

“Basically with the ‘52 Arena, we’re changing the criteria,” said Fire Chief Steve Richardson. “It’s been identified due to the retro fit.”

The issue also is affecting other local groups. The Chamber of Commerce, for instance, is not being allowed to use the ’52 Canadians Arena for its trade show May 9-10.

Chief Richardson said events like trade shows and car shows have a higher fire risk because of the added “fuels” they introduce to the building in the form of wood, paper, and plastic products.

With vehicles, it’s even more of a problem because of petroleum products and batteries.

In the meantime, the fate of the “chem-free” grad festivities remain up in the air. The committee must submit a detailed proposal to the Fort Frances Fire Department outlining what activities are planned and how many people will be involved.

“Until I see what they’re planning for that night, it’s hard to make a decision,” said Chief Richardson.

He stressed that if potential fire fuels were added to the building—even in the form of chairs, tables, or a stage—that “some concessions would have to be made” to make the facility available for the activity.

“The fire department has always been a supporter of the ‘chem-free’ grad,” he said. “But the kids’ safety is most important.”

The “chem-free” grad committee will meet again Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the FFHS library, at which time the use of the building will be discussed.

“It’s been there for the past two years and it’s worked out well,” said Boileau, adding the committee will be putting together a proposal for the fire department at the meeting.

“We’ll have to start looking for a new location [if the arena is ruled out],” she noted. “But first we have to have it ruled out.”

The fire chief said his response will be immediate since the time is getting tight.

The “chem-free” grad committee still is in the organizing phase—and still is looking someone to head the sponsorship committee. But Boileau is confident the final details will be worked out at tomorrow night’s meeting and planning will get underway, including the soliciting of sponsors.

“Our sponsors have been generous in the past,” she said, adding that it is time to start talking to potential sponsors. “We have to get moving on things.”

Anyone interested in getting involved can attend the meeting. “We still have lots of room for people to come and volunteer, either to help organize or on that night,” said Boileau.

The party is planned for Wednesday, June 25 following the formal graduation ceremony in the Ice for Kids Arena.

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