Citizen says Lacombe needs more ice surfaces and modern dressing rooms for users

In the community, any community, the children come first. The children must always come first.

In the community, any community, the children come first. The children must always come first.

Here in Lacombe, it is obvious that there are not enough ice surfaces to provide adequate amounts of time for practices and games of our local ice user groups, specifically the stakeholders such as Lacombe Minor Hockey teams, the local Ringette teams and any local ice sport user groups or teams.

Meanwhile, apparently, many millions of dollars have been approved by Lacombe City council to upgrade the Lacombe Recreation Facility, in order to bring those facilities up to code.

And, the fancy words for the cultural/performance arts centre, the C4 Initiative, is, I guess, going to proceed forward at a nearby other location in Lacombe, yet our Canadian culture, by and large, includes ice sports like hockey, figure skating and Ringette.

The C4 Initiative is a good thing, mind you, and the ‘doers and shakers’ have smoothly included a daycare facility to be one of the four facilities of the C4 Initiative.

That daycare is of course, a very good thing so applause all around that a facility has been included for those little children into the title of the C4 Initiative.

I was not elected to be a City councillor when I ran in the most recent local civic election for councillors in October 2013.

At that time, I mentioned that perhaps a C4 Initiative might include and could include 14 amenities or facilities as an idea.

Then it would be called maybe the C14 Initiative. So instead of only four facilities, it would be more inclusive of many local interest groups and include those performing arts because ‘C’ is for culture and should include ice sports as the part of the culture, along with those performing arts.

The children of Lacombe, that way, could be included if there were additional facilities for their interests and activities.

For example more room for minor hockey, ringette and several other activities which are not part of the C4 group of interests.

The C4 Initiative is a good project but there is a need in Lacombe to recognize that there are not enough ice surfaces for ice sports. Ice sports are a large part of culture in Canada, in Alberta and in Lacombe.

Children should have priority in Lacombe. The ice surface facilities that are here were constructed at a time when Lacombe’s population was about four times less than the current population size of our community.

And there is no ‘flagship’ team for any ice sport in Lacombe.

The senior hockey team of The Chinook Hockey League folded in the early 90s: The Lacombe Merchants. The Lacombe Rockets of the old Central Alberta Hockey League folded in 1965 then the large Jubilee Hockey Stadium burned down in June 1968.

So the front ice, as we know it, opened in January 1970, The Lacombe Merchants formed and later a Junior B team, The Impact C Rushers, which folded, then the Lacombe Wranglers who moved to Blackfalds.

Why did the Wranglers leave Lacombe to move to Blackfalds?

Lacombe is centrally located so we could be an ideal place for an elite women’s hockey team or the same for ringette, or maybe a triple A Midget hockey team in the Alberta Major Midget Hockey League, or a triple A senior hockey team in the Chinook Hockey League, or a Junior A hockey team competing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, similar to the 16 teams across Alberta that do that.

But none of those ideas could happen in Lacombe because there are no proper dressing rooms in Lacombe’s ice sport facilities.

Lacombe needs more ice surfaces but, at least, Lacombe could build an annex building at the arenas that would contain eight new, modern, proper, state-of-the- art dressing room facilities so then Lacombe could have those ‘flagship’ ice sport teams. Lacombe could then host high quality, competitive ice sport games and events thus enhancing the local economy.

Lacombe has an excellent front ice/main ice arena.

That main ice facility is excellent. It is very well lit, very clean, well maintained and has spectator seating, properly, on both the east side of the area competition ice surface and also seating on the west side of that playing rink.

With spectators on both sides it is a great atmosphere for hockey games and the like.

Lacombe can be proud that the arena staff and arena management have that facility presented professionally, extremely clean, well maintained and with class, which adds to the friendly atmosphere in our beautiful City of Lacombe.

So Lacombe should add new, large dressing rooms, then Lacombe would have something special in the spirit of an old-fashioned game in place. Even if the competition players had to walk a very long distance to the ice playing surface from newly built dressing rooms, I believe that they would appreciate a home base of spacious, modern locker rooms that include several shower heads.

In the past, Lacombe has had proud baseball and hockey teams.

And currently, because of the tremendous effort of dedicated football enthusiasts, Lacombe has a beautiful football facility: M.E. Global Athletic Park near the high school.

I figure that people like myself who are enthusiastic, equally, about ice sports like hockey, need to step up to help continue progress in this great community by adding to sports in Lacombe by initiating a large project for dressing rooms in an annex building.

Lacombe is ideally located as the ‘Crossroads of the Parkland.’

Being in the middle of all things, Alberta is an easy attraction to Lacombe, so if Lacombe had additional modern sport facilities in the form of proper dressing rooms to start with and then hopefully more ice surfaces of the proper size for competition, then many sports and many activities might actually appear here to this easy access central location.

If Lacombe doesn’t add something modern, then it’s likely not to cultivate fertile soil to reap an abundant harvest.

Our mayor, Steve Christie, has mentioned that he is excited that the code upgrade project will be completed. I suggest that when the $15 million has been expended,  that an average person will go to the ice sport/recreational facility buildings to find nothing new and useful for this modern day and era in Lacombe because those upgrades are to improve things up to code. There will be very little as to being relevant to additional or new improvements, amenities or better and newer facilities. I can appreciate that the Lacombe City council and Lacombe City administration have many details to consider about everything in Lacombe and I thank everyone at the City for all of their efforts for all that they do regarding those responsibilities.

It is their responsibility to be sure that the children must always come first.

An annex building for new modern dressing rooms is their responsibility.

More ice surfaces for the children in Lacombe is, too, their responsibility.

I would encourage that, somehow, a committee be formed to organize a project to raise funds to build an annex building of new, proper, modern, state-of-the-art dressing rooms at the Lacombe arenas.

To that end, I would personally pledge to contribute $1,000 and encourage others, both commercial and private contributions to add however they are comfortable and able to build a chest of funds to raise an approximate amount (likely several million) to then construct those kind of dressing room facilities that would enhance the culture of sports in Lacombe and would therefore assist Lacombe to promote our excellent City for many future exciting events.

W. Sandy Douglas

Lacombe