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Water shortage: Hockey players ‘pay the price’

P 3 A chapman lake low

This is Chapman Lake back on Sept. 22, when water levels were still dropping. It was this that lead the SCRD, on Oct. 3, to impose Stage 4 water restrictions, which ban virtually all outside use of tap water for most of the Coast. Since then there has been rain, and consumption has dropped (as of Oct. 15) to about the Stage 4 target of 10 million litres a day. But as of press time on Oct. 17, the SCRD officials were still monitoring weather forecasts and the level of the lake – which supplies water for most of the Coast – and were not yet ready to relax the restrictions. SCRD photo

Brenda Rowe, president of the Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association (SCMHA), had some blunt words for SCRD directors about the impact on her association of the delay in putting in ice at the Sechelt Arena this fall.

Addressing the planning and community development meeting of Oct. 12, Rowe expressed her “exasperation” with this consequence of Stage 4 water restrictions that have delayed the installation of ice in the Sechelt arena.

“At the end of the day it seems as though ice users will pay a price for the SCRD’s lack of ability to manage our water resources,” said Rowe.

Rowe described an “administrative nightmare” in juggling an interlocking game schedule involving teams from Whistler to Seattle. If ice is not put in within the next two weeks, she said the SCMHA will have to purchase ice in the Lower Mainland to play home games, and travel there by ferry.

Rowe also said that ice users “felt under-valued”, and that the SCRD demonstrated its lack of understanding of the sport when they referred to it as “a well-loved pastime.”

Rowe said that hockey families demonstrated tremendous dedication in undertaking the cost and commitment necessary for the sport. She also described the economic benefits hockey bring to the community. Since 2012, she said her group has brought 16 tournaments to the coast, and she estimated that families coming here for games have spent $1.2 million on accommodation and meals over the last five or six years.

“We need a plan so that we do not repeat this situation that we find ourselves in this year,” said Rowe.

Responding to her comments, Ian Hall, general manager of planning and community development, said that “ice making takes a lot of water.” Installing the ice sheet takes 182,000 litres of water, and plant operations require another 16,000 litres per day.

Hall said the SCRD is looking into alternatives, including the possibility of using water from a well on the Sechelt Arena property, but noted that it will take time because the water has to be tested, the well licenced, and connections put in place.

Area D Director Mark Lebbell, while sympathizing as a parent of children involved in sports, said “we are entering times of adaptation to climate change” and expressed his full support for prioritizing water for drinking, health, wild fish, food and fire protection.

Area A Director Frank Mauro, who chaired the meeting, pointed out that the SCRD does have a comprehensive regional water plan, but told Rowe: “What I’m hearing from you is that we need to hurry up.”

Donna McMahon

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