EDMONTON – A south Edmonton community league is worried it may have to shut down its outdoor ice rinks early this winter after upwards of $12,000 worth of equipment was stolen over the weekend.
A North Millbourne Community League staff member came to work Saturday morning to get to work on the ice surface when he noticed the door to the shack was wide open. When the staff member went inside, he noticed the equipment was gone.
“I was a little shocked,” facility director Glenn Baker said when he learned of the theft. “We came down and sure enough all of the equipment was gone.”
A snowblower, sweeper and leaf blower were taken. Baker said surveillance footage shows two people approach the building at around midnight on Saturday and cut off a lock box, which was hanging on the main door and held the keys to the facility. The keys were then used by the pair to get inside. Baker said it does not appear the pair had a vehicle, the video shows them walking away with the equipment.
The community league has insurance, but members said that’s not the point; a lot of volunteer hours went into raising the money to buy the equipment in the first place.
“It’s very disappointing,” community league board member Julie Hadfield said. “It’s mostly volunteers who take care of this stuff and they do it out of the goodness of their heart… for someone to come and rob that plan, it’s sad. It’s very sad.
“It kind of gets you right where you live.”
Plus, with just a few weeks left in the outdoor skating season, they worry it won’t be enough time to regroup and stay open.
“Today we’re just on pause. We’ll be looking at buying new equipment if we don’t recover what we had and that could take time either way,” Hadfield said. “If we can’t maintain the ice we can’t keep it open.”
Baker said the league has had to lay off a part-time worker who was responsible for maintaining the rinks as a result of the theft.
To add insult to injury, the community league noticed additional vandalism to the building Monday afternoon. The door to the kitchen was damaged and taken off the hinge, and a lock on another door was pushed out. Community league members believe it happened sometime Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Hadfield said the two incidents may be linked and she worries the building is being targeted.
“It’s a little disconcerting to say the least,” she said upon the discovery.
“We’re going to spend some more money fixing [things] because someone thinks they are going to find something in here.”
There are two sheets of ice at the North Millbourne Community League rink, one for hockey and another for free skating.
From watching the surveillance video, community members believe the suspects may be familiar with the building and the area. Baker said police came down to review the surveillance video.
–with files from Julia Wong
© 2016 Shaw Media