Sudbury·Audio

Minor hockey association starts petition for St. Charles arena to open this winter

A petition is circulating in the Municipality of St. Charles, near Sudbury, after council voted to keep the community arena closed for the upcoming season.

Mayor says decision was made to keep it closed in case there is a second wave of COVID-19

The mayor says the arena will only be closed for one season but the head of the local minor hockey association fears it could result in a permanent closure. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

A petition is circulating in the Municipality of St. Charles, near Sudbury, after council voted to keep the community arena closed for the upcoming season.

Arenas can open in Ontario with safety rules in place to try and limit the spread of COVID-19. But it's up to each municipality to decide whether to do that.

Maria Tavares is the president of the St. Charles Minor Hockey Association. She says she was disappointed to hear the arena isn't opening. She says parents she's spoken to want to sent their children back to play hockey.

"I don't think COVID plays a big part in their decision because they know they will be safe at the arena while they're playing," she said.

"They've allowed everything else in St. Charles to resume. I don't understand how it's so much more dangerous to be at the arena."

Tavares has three boys who play hockey. She says her oldest is especially upset.

"He's begging me to allow him to go door to door, asking people to sign our petition," she said.

"I am going to allow him to do that safely. He wants to feel that he's a part of making a difference."

Tavares says with the economy opening up, children are ready to get back into a routine.

"There's just nothing else for them to do," she said.

Maria Tavares is president of the St. Charles Minor Hockey Association. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

"Going into September it will be six months for most of our kids have barely left the house. Whatever time we're allowed on the ice they need that time to get some exercise."

The decision only applies to this year, but she says she's concerned it could lead to a permanent closure.

The mayor of the Municipality of St. Charles, Paul Schoppmann, says council discussed the issue and decided to keep the arena closed this season in case there is a second wave of COVID-19.

"The cost for us to put in the ice and then have to shut it down a couple of months later, we said you know what? We're just going to close it this year and have it open for next year," he said.

Paul Schoppmann is the mayor of the Municipality of St. Charles. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

He says they made the decision with the health and safety of everyone in mind.

"They're young players," he said. "It might be a grandparent that brings a child. Everybody's at risk with this."

Schoppmann says he understands why people are upset.

"But we did it because of the pandemic," he said. "Like the World Health Organization is saying, this pandemic isn't over yet."

With files from Sarah MacMillan

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