A non-profit program that helps Cape Breton children learn how to skate for free could be in jeopardy.
Glace Bay’s only rink closed in August, leaving the Learn to Skate program searching for ice time elsewhere. Organizer Nick Bonnar says the new price tag is more than they can afford.
“Without the Bayplex … it’s a hard time to find ice. The prices are a lot different than they were at the Bayplex,” said Bonnar.
He says they would have to come up with thousands of dollars to cover the price difference, putting the program in financial jeopardy.
“I would be devastated because there’s a lot of good kids around that don’t have a lot and they want to get on the ice and try to learn how to skate,” said Bonnar. “What annoys me more than anything is that I always hear about kids with nothing to do, well, here’s a free program, and we will take any kid.”
Bonnar has been working with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s Recreation Department to try and find a solution.
Meanwhile, Mayor Cecil Clarke says closing the rink was their only option.
“What would be very difficult is to have a sick building to have children in. That’s just not feasible either,” said Clarke. “We do understand that there are some transition issues we have to deal with, but I think most importantly people know that we’re committed to the long-term well-being of the hockey programming and the facility the Bayplex long-term.”
Bonnar says the public is assisting the Learn to Skate program by donating gear and money, and the operator of the Canada Games Complex, which is about a 20-minute drive from Glace Bay, has offered ice time at a lower cost than other facilities, but it’s still more money than the program can handle.
“You can’t lose a program where there’s kids involved, and we need help, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
Fundraising money from last year will help the program pay for the first few weeks, but its future after that is uncertain.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore