Communities step up after arena shutdown

The Winkler Arena ice surface is closed until repairs can be completed.

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Neighbouring communities have stepped up to help Winkler Arena user groups after a shutdown Nov. 1 that is expected to last for about four weeks.
A mechanical failure to their ice plant caused the shutdown, and user groups have already adjusted.
The Winkler Flyers have moved all their November games to Morden. That affects five dates from Nov. 9 to 27. The Winkler Royals will also play a home game in Morden.
Winkler Minor Hockey, home to 215 kids, is making use of several community arenas.
“Our ice scheduler has done a great job working with neighbouring communities and the neighbouring communities have reached out as well,” Winkler Minor Hockey President Colin Hiebert said. “As a result most of our games are going to be played as scheduled, and then we’re still going to manage to get a reasonable amount of practice ice for the teams as well.”
Hiebert credited ice scheduler Anna Wall with making things work.
“It’s taken some creative scheduling and a lot of sharing of ice, but considering what a loss it is to Winkler Minor, we’ve managed to do a pretty good job,” he said.
Neighbouring arenas deserve the credit as well.
Hiebert said they’ve increased the amount of ice they use in Plum Coulee, and found some slots in Morden, Miami and Carman.
He said some communities such as Morris, reached out to Winkler Minor Hockey immediately after the shutdown was announced.
“The neighbouring communities have been fantastic and very supportive,” he said. “I think that shows our local hockey community is a community, and where there’s a need, there’s support.”
Hiebert said he wasn’t surprised by the support but also didn’t expect other towns to reach out like they did.
He added that they appreciate both the rink staff and city government for their dedication to getting ice back.
“We’re pleased that the Winkler Civic government, the council, mayor and rec department, they acted quickly and they’re committed to repairing the ice plant and getting us back on the ice as quickly as possible,” he said.
Winkler Mayor Martin Harder said they had no choice but to proceed with the shutdown.
“We understand the vital role the ice rink plays in the community,” he said. “However, there is absolutely no question that we proceed with the repair in a way that will allow us to open again as soon as possible.”
Harder said the failure occurred unexpectedly and well ahead of the life expectancy of the equipment. The estimated cost of repair ranges from $125,000 to $135,000.
Harder said he appreciates the reaction of user groups who were put in a tough situation.
“I’m very pleased with the cooperation we’ve received from the user groups,” he said.

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