Katie Williams looks forward to the first time Newmarket residents lace up their skates and slide across the surface of a future NHL-sized rink at the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex.
Williams is vice president of the women’s division and director of the Central York Girls Hockey Association’s Panther Pride Tournament.
She’s also been heavily involved in past efforts to raise around $400,000 for the project, including a raffle that saw five top-selling kids skate for an hour with Newmarket NHL star Connor. McDavid.
While the city’s recreation manual 10-year master plan for 2015 to 2025 identified the need for an outdoor ice rink and community space, the issue has remained largely dormant as of late, particularly during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he returned to center ice with a public meeting on March 24.
There is still a lot of work to be done – determining the exact location of the ice rink at the Twinney complex, although a space near the main entrance adjacent to parking which would not impact the football pitches at proximity seems to be the preferred location; determining the budget and funding sources; developing programming and event opportunities; and identify accompanying equipment such as seats and skate hire – and will involve further public consultation.
The city plans to open the new indoor skating rink and community space in 2024.
In winter, the facility would host, for example, hockey games, training and tournaments, public skating with low-cost or no-cost skate rentals for those who want to try the sport without investing a lot of money, learn to -skating and ringette programs.
During the summer months, the space could be used for ball hockey, lacrosse, community events and private functions.
As she looks forward to the facility opening in a few years, Williams, who has volunteered with the hockey association for more than 25 years, said the space will provide many opportunities.
This includes everything from tournaments that attract up to 70 teams to Newmarket, outdoor shinny games, opportunities to showcase female and female hockey and attract new players to the game and a potential venue for participation community, Williams said.
Players are heavily involved in community initiatives, such as the Junior Panthers, who have been the top fundraising team for the “She Shoots She Saves” program, which helps buy defibrillators in parks and outdoor arenas; collecting hoodies and jackets for homeless youth in York Region to benefit 360Kids; buying and delivering gifts to residents of Hope House, a shelter for young women victims of human trafficking; purchase hockey equipment for native youth and welcome members of Aurora’s black community to a skating rink in the park, the first time many have stepped on skates.
“During the COVID closures, many families have built their own rinks to stay active and continue playing hockey, the game we love,” Williams added.
“The addition of an outdoor rink with a good quality ice surface would provide even more opportunities for the association’s 50+ teams to skate and stay active throughout the winter, but also hopefully the, to use the surface for dry land training and summer sports. ”
The NHL rink and community space is part of the city’s largest investment in parks, recreation and culture in Newmarket’s history over the next six to eight years, including Mulock Park, the Magna Center skateboard park, new trails, including the upcoming Shining Hill Community and Multi-Purpose Sports Fields, Mayor John Taylor said.
“One thing I’ve learned in my 15 years here in the city is that it’s something people really appreciate. They value the trails, they value the parks, they value the opportunities to be active, so the kids are active and not on screens,” he said.
While the budget is still being determined, Taylor said community fundraising, development fees (municipal fees on newly constructed homes and commercial/industrial buildings) and corporate sponsorships are expected to incur a cost. minimal or zero for installation on existing property taxpayers.
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When the city announced a public meeting on the proposed NHL-sized ice rink and community space at the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex, reporter Lisa Queen pored over the project.