It may be a slapshot in the face to some, but to others — particularly those concerned about budgets — it’s time to let the world’s largest hockey stick retire.
The current record-holder, a Douglas fir stick and puck more than 62 metres in length, has graced the east side of the Cowichan Community Centre in Duncan, B.C., for 35 years. The replica, however, has fallen into disrepair — waterlogged and rotting in place as woodpeckers chip away it.
In a recent survey by the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), 70 per cent of some 3,000 respondents voted to bench the iconic structure. The estimated price tag for repairing it was upwards of $1.5 million.
“It’s reached a stage where we can’t refurbish or replace it without a huge amount of expense,” Mike Wilson, CVRD board director for Area C-Cobble Hill, told Global News.
“We’ve come to the conclusion now with the Cowichan Core Recreation Commission that it’s time to maybe let this one go for the time being, which means that there’s going to be a few woodpeckers looking for a new home, but that’s OK.”
The world-famous hockey stick, which weighs more than 61,729 pounds, was originally built for Expo 86 in Vancouver and set up at the entrance to the Canada Pavilion. It was moved to Duncan in 1988 after the city won a Canada-wide competition to acquire it.
The American city of Lockport, Ill., however, has plans to build a new arena with an even bigger stick — more than 76 metres in length — which prompted the CVRD to question the merit in trying to maintain its top title.
“Like many cities in Canada we have homelessness issues, addiction issues,” Tom Duncan, acting chair of the Cowichan Core Recreation Commission, said in an interview.
“Obviously, we’re playing with dealing with taxpayers’ money here, so that was an issue and high in the minds of the commission.”
The district says its goal now is to seek expressions of interest from community organizations or individuals looking to make use of a large hockey stick.
Someone might want to repurpose the wood, Wilson added as an example.
“We’d like to see it reused either by hobbyists or by those people who are in the reclamation business,” he explained. “We have budgeted funds for taking it down, but the more help we can get from industry or from the public, so much the better.
“None of it will be just put away, a lot of recycling in there, we hope will go forward.”
Two Duncan residents reached by Global News on Tuesday indicated they were sad to see the hockey stick go.
“We’re famous for a lot of other great things but it’s sad. My son is nine and he plays hockey and he’s just really got into it this year, so he’s pretty disappointed,” said Michelle Maxey, adding that Duncan would remain a “hockey city” no matter what.
“I’m sad to see it go, it’s been around for a long time and it’s given an interesting name to the community,” added Ian Fairwell. “I’ve grown up with it. I have fond memories of it; it’s a landmark.”
The stick is slated for removal in early 2024.
— with files from The Canadian Press