Alternate winter programming at Clifford arena proving popular

MINTO – Alternative winter programming at the Clifford arena, where ice has not been installed for several seasons, is proving popular, Minto council heard at its April 2 meeting.

Mayor Dave Turton asked community services director Matt Lubbers how ice-time usage at local arenas during the 2023/24 season compared to the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Four years ago we had three arenas running, ice in three arenas … We’re down to two. Does that mean the utilization goes up on the two that we have now?” the mayor inquired.

“Utilization fluctuates a little bit and COVID threw a big wrench into that,” said Lubbers, adding restrictions such as proof-of-vaccination requirements when arenas were re-opened continued to impact numbers.

“The last two seasons that we’ve had without restrictions, utilization is lower than pre-COVID and something we can accommodate with two sheets as opposed to three.”

Lubbers added, “What’s interesting is that with ice there’s only a certain number of users out there. There’s definitely been an uptick in interest in alternative or non-traditional programming.

“For the Clifford arena, we’ve had some busy nights with pickleball, roller skating, the family drop-in … it’s not as if the building’s closed and the doors are locked. So it’s nice to see that there is interest in alternative programming when the demand for ice isn’t there.

“Certainly not everyone plays hockey and it’s great to have a pad like the one that we do that is utilized and enjoyed by our residents.”

Minutes of the Community Services Advisory Committee’s March 18 meeting indicate the family drop-in and roller-skating sessions on Saturdays at the Clifford arena have been well-received, with additional weeknight roller-skating sessions under consideration.

The minutes also note major events are planned for all three Minto arenas this spring and summer, including the Life Outdoors Show in Clifford (May 4 and 5),  Palmerston and District Hospital Foundation Starlight Gala in Harriston (May 25) and the Upper Canada Two Cylinder Club John Deere Show (July 26 to 28) in Palmerston.

Norgan Theatre busy

The minutes note attendance for weekend feature films at the Norgan Theatre in Palmerston in 2023 was just under 10,000. A sponsored matinee over the recent March Break sold out with over 200 in attendance. 

An appearance by The Sandpipers at the theatre is set for April 11. 

The minutes also note the volunteer board of directors at the municipally-owned theatre “would like to explore upgrading the seats soon.”