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Fenlands ‘going to be a very busy building’ this winter season

“From my perspective, we are in unprecedented times here and the fact we have to take an ice sheet away so that other members of our community with other interests and other sporting interests have some place to go, I feel is the right decision at this time,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen.
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The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre. RMO FILE PHOTO

BANFF – The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre may be the biggest hot spot in town this winter with plans to use nearly every part of the facility.

Town council was updated by administration on reopening changes at Fenlands for the 2020-21 winter season Tuesday (Sept. 8), with plans to use one arena for ice sports, one arena as a field house, curling wing, and the concourse acting as a multi-use fitness space.

“It’s going to be a very busy building,” said Amanda Arbuckle, Banff’s manager of recreation services.

“So we’re trying to manage entrances and exits and have a pretty good plan and guidelines in place that we can deliver to instructors and participants and have a very effective signage plan as well.”

The Fenlands facility is closed to the general public, however, some programs and services are currently being offered such as public skating, sports nights, some ice rentals with user groups, and community classes such as yoga, First-Aid, and art.

For most leagues, such as for hockey, it remains at a maximum 50-person league, including coaches and managers under Stage 2. However, a new amendment allows for travelling if play remains within a cohort group.

“For example, Canmore minor hockey might only have one atom team and in order to create a comprehensive cohort group for development play … they might bring in three Cochrane teams that will now be within their four hockey cohort teams,” said Arbuckle.

To avoid unnecessary crowding at the Fenlands, the Town is asking guests not to arrive earlier than five to 10 minutes from their booking and to come as dressed and ready to play as possible. For hockey goalies, a designated change room is being established.

Between mini-league games, sanitization will take place on the rinks.

If someone wants to change their mini-leagues/sport this winter, such as switching from a hockey league to Banff Kyokushin Karate, they can if they refrain from doing organized/drop-in activities for two weeks.

Councillor Brian Standish expressed concerns about this interpretation from Alberta Health Services (AHS).

He highlighted being unable to play in two hockey mini-leagues with locals, while being able to eat at two local restaurants on the same day with visitors to the area.

“It just doesn’t make any sense where I can’t play on two different teams with people I’ve known all my life. It just seems strange,” Standish said. “If there is any way we could make Banff hockey its own cohort, so it doesn’t matter which team you play on, you’re in a Banff hockey cohort, that’s one suggestion.”

Kelly Gibson, the Town’s manager, said he’d seek out a written clarification from AHS and its recommendation.

Early this October, the Banff Curling Club will resume without the need for cohorts or mini-leagues.

Newest amendments from health authorities and rule changes from Curling Canada on sweeping techniques for a greater ability to social distance will allow the sport to operate like in previous years.

In other parts of the facility, Arena 2 will remain as a dry surface this winter until further notice.

“We won’t have access to the new elementary school’s gymnasium for potentially the entire school year that was built for community sessions,” said Arbuckle. “Many programs have been relocated to Arena 2 on the dry service.”

It’s expected that user and drop-in groups playing soccer, badminton, pickle ball, roller skating, skateboarding and rollerblading will all play. It’s also expected for some out-of-school programs.

Banff Gymnastics Club also requested the Town to provide a temporary space at the Fenlands.

“From my perspective, we are in unprecedented times here and the fact we have to take an ice sheet away so that other members of our community with other interests and other sporting interests have some place to go, I feel is the right decision at this time,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen.

The concourse will host fitness activities such as senior fitness and Tai Chi, arts and first aid programs, yoga, Pilates and Zoomba.



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Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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