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‘Ice for Kids’ pulls plug on canteen project

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“Ice for Kids” is so livid over town council’s decision to name the new ice surface “52 Canadians Arena” that it has withdrawn its pledge to run the canteen there to raise the additional $200,000 local share needed for the $7.3-million project.

And that has the town wondering how to make up the shortfall.

“Certainly, it will have to be made up,” CAO Bill Naturkach said yesterday.

“How? We haven’t had that discussion. We allocated the contracts based on the contributions--both from the ‘Ice for Kids’ revenue raising and all the funding sources put together,” he added.

“Obviously, now it is deficient so we’ll have to review that,” he stressed.

“Ice for Kids” informed town council of its decision to pull out of the canteen project via a letter at Monday night’s regular meeting. Co-chairs Dave Egan and Les Baker also resigned from the second ice surface committee.

“We’re relinquishing our role over the name of the second ice surface,” Baker confirmed yesterday afternoon. “We don’t like the name. It should be ‘Ice for Kids’ rink or at least have the name in there somewhere.

“We didn’t think the name council chose for the new rink was appropriate,” he added.

“Basically, the volunteer group dedicated time and effort for eight years [only] not to be mentioned or recognized in the naming in the rink,” echoed Egan, who admitted he’s grown frustrated with council’s repeated decisions.

“In all respect to the ’52 Canadians team, it would make more sense to put their name on the old arena than on the new one,” he remarked.

Egan also said there continues to be friction between town council and “Ice for Kids” members.

“After construction of the project which started this spring, I really thought a lot of the wounds, which developed between our group and council, were beginning to heal,” he remarked.

“But obviously council did not feel that way as they chose the name for the new arena themselves with total disregard of the public’s input, which they requested through the media,” he added.

Egan said “Ice for Kids” was suggested as the name for the new arena twice.

“It will be a frosty day in hell before any volunteer group will work as hard or long as ‘Ice for Kids’ members did for a community project for the betterment of the community,” he fumed.

Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said he was disappointed “Ice for Kids” pulled out of the canteen project, and that Egan and Baker resigned.

“I feel really bad Dave Egan and Les Baker resigned their post,” the mayor said yesterday. “[But] the project still exists. The $200,000 is still needed to cover additional costs such as ice time.”

Community Services manager George Bell said he will be contacting clubs that will use the new arena--including the Blueline Club, the Border Figure Skating Club, and the Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association--about helping out with the fundraising effort.

In the meantime, Baker suggested the uproar over the choice of names was just another roadblock put in front of “Ice for Kids.”

“It should not be ‘52 Canadians Arena.’ That’s our rink . . . we raised the money,” he argued. “‘Ice for Kids’ is a community project with community involvement.

“It looks like a rocky roller-coaster ride . . . [council] has taken us to the edge of the cliff and this has pushed us over,” he charged.

Egan said “Ice for Kids” will go through with the Wall of Fame project at the new complex but stressed they no longer will pursue bringing in attractions, such as junior- or national-level hockey games, to raise funds.

Egan also noted he was approached by two people yesterday suggesting they will pursue circulating a petition over the name of the new ice surface name.

He expected that petition to be brought forward to council’s next regular meeting Dec. 13.

“The thing is, when the actual structure was going up, there was a good feeling in the community,” said Egan. “But that positive attitude has [since] dropped.”

Baker did say no one had withdrawn their pledge over council’s choice of name.

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