At the end of February, the $5.6 million Canada 150 skating rink sitting on Parliament Hill is going to need a new home—and Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski says it should be in Fernie.
The MP is vying to have the rink, built for Ottawa to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial year, shipped across the country and set up in the small mountain city.
“The future is really uncertain for the home of the Ghostriders,” said Stetski. Fernie’s Junior B hockey team has been playing home games in Sparwood since the ammonia leak at the Fernie Memorial arena that claimed three lives in October 2017.
The Ottawa rink, which is currently outdoors is equipped with full grandstand seating, boards and a coolant system that uses vegetable-grade glycol.
With Fernie’s indoor rink closed indefinitely following the RCMP investigation, the MP says the rink in Ottawa could easily be set up in an enclosed facility.
Currently, the Federal government has turned the rink over to the Ottawa Minor Hockey Association, who will be deciding who to pass the asset over to by the end of February.
Stetski says he has spoken with the coach of the hockey association.
“He was very open and did not discourage the idea,” said Stetski, who has also been lobbying the Minister of Heritage and the Prime Minister’s office.
Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano has also banded with the Kootenay-Columbia MP, speaking with Parliament Hill politicians to get support to have the rink.
Stetski says he doesn’t know the cost of shipping such an item, but has received some initial interest from large shipping companies in helping out with the endeavour.
Stetski is also looking at putting forward a motion to establish a government funding program to assist arenas with adopting safer cooling systems as their ammonia based mechanisms reach the end of their lifespans.
Currently, over 60 per cent of arenas across the country still use the toxic chemical in ice-making machines.
“This really tragic event in Fernie shone a light on just how hazardous ammonia can be,” said Stetski.
As for the rink in Ottawa, he says they will know by the end of February whether their lobbying was successful.
Stetski says the Federal government’s decision to spend $5.6 million on the rink was a controversial move on Parliament Hill.
“I think in order to make it a more reasonable use of the money, sending it to Fernie is the right answer,” he said.