Sturgeon River hockey rink taken down on city orders
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 12, 2013 06:00 am
Teaching foreigners the Canadian way of life can be a tough row to hoe. Especially when bending the rules.
That’s what Tom Hughes recently learnt when he was ordered to take down a self-made hockey rink on the Sturgeon River.
Hughes and a couple of construction workers built the rink in late November to teach their Australian friend and co-worker Bradley Watts how to play the game.
They built the rink on a small stretch of cleared ice that the workers flooded and surrounded with wooden boards. There was even a loonie buried at centre ice.
The team met every Friday afternoon for a tournament and practised on other days during the week.
Hughes said they were visited by one of the city’s bylaw officers shortly before Christmas and told to take the boards down.
“There were no complaints. The peace officer said we weren’t allowed structures on the river and we had no choice but to tear it down,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate and we are not very impressed to say the least.”
Garnet Melnyk, senior peace officer for St. Albert, said anyone was allowed to play hockey and clear the ice on the river as long as they did not set up permanent structures.
“It hinders other users of that space, people who want to cross-country ski and it’s blocking the way,” he said.
“And not to mention that at night it would be a safety hazard if someone was to be on the river, they could run into it potentially.”
Melnyk added that people are not allowed to use snowmobiles on the river, but it still happens.
Most people use the river in the winter to walk or pull their children on a toboggan, he said, which is not always safe.
“They have to be aware that it is a body of water and I wouldn’t go on it,” he said.
“It’s a river so it’s flowing, you don’t know how thick the ice is and you could walk in certain spots and fall through.”
In a previous interview, Hughes said they checked the ice before building the rink and it was six inches thick.
Though they cannot practise on the river anymore, the team now uses the Flagstone Park Rink in Forest Lawn to play hockey.
And their Australian friend is catching on.
“Really it’s not the end of the world because we are still playing hockey and he’s better than me and it’s killing me,” Hughes laughed.
“We taught him well, I guess.”