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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
As a youngster, I spent endless hours playing shinny hockey or simply skating with other children in an outdoor rink minutes from my home in western P.E.I.
But other than a few games with newspaper co-workers in my mid-30s, I had largely skated away from a recreational activity that once filled a huge part of my life.
That changed last week. A newly minted 60-year-old, I picked up the least expensive pair of skates I could find and hit the ice — literally, almost — at the arena in Summerside.
It was actually my four-yearold grandson’s first time on skates and it worked out well for both of us. By times we were both leaning on his skating “noodle,” an aid for tots that’s kind of like a walker for seniors.
Neither of us were very graceful but that’s OK. We both enjoyed ourselves and with future sessions guaranteed, we’ll surely improve.
That’s the nature of arenas that dot communities across P.E.I. — memories are made here, from hockey and figure skating milestones to annual gatherings that knit the community together and give people a source of pride and identity.
It’s certainly true in Tyne Valley where, a few days after Christmas, the 56-year-old sports centre that also hosts the Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship each summer was razed by fire.
As one user put it on the arena’s Facebook page, “The sports centre was not just a rink or facility to hold events…it held the heart of our community.”
A campaign is already underway to rebuild and the community is mounting a bid to compete for $250,000 in Hockeyville Canada.
Provincial and federal governments will also be asked to help finance the replacement of this vital structure. Without hesitation, they should.
Not enough Islanders, myself included, are physically active enough and that eventually leads to an increased economic burden for all taxpayers.
A report from the Island’s
Chief Public Health Officer a few years ago found that being physically inactive is one of the risk factors for the development of many health conditions, among them, heart disease, stroke, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. It also found that Islanders are more inactive than the average Canadian and the rates of inactivity have been increasing.
I know that having access to modern, well designed sports and recreational facilities will increase the odds of more Islanders getting the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week recommended by Health Canada.
A lot of work lies ahead to replace the community sports centre but people in the Tyne Valley area are up to the challenge.
“The one thing I’m not worried about is us rebounding and building bigger and better,” Mayor Jeff Noye said. “I know that’s going to happen.”
Earlier, in a thank you to everyone who helped to fight the fire and to provide ice time in neighbouring communities, the centre’s board of directors said the loss comes with “new chapters, new challenges and new beginnings.”
After all the hard work, the end product will be a facility that will help to build a more vibrant, healthy community.
And priceless memories, from the first hockey goal or figure skating jump, to a senior and his pre-school grandson learning and rediscovering the magic of skating.
Wayne Young is a freelance writer living in Summerside.