Rink in RM of St. Andrews going unused because of ‘unfair’ fee

Click to play video: 'Skaters on St. Andrews community rink told to pay to use the ice' Skaters on St. Andrews community rink told to pay to use the ice
A community club in the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews, Man., is being questioned after local residents were told they needed to pay a fee to use the club's outdoor skating rink – Jan 7, 2019

An outdoor rink in the Rural Municipality (RM) of St. Andrews, Man., is causing quite the stir after implementing a new fee to use the facility.

The St. Andrews Community Club is charging $60 per person for use of the rink, including both children and adults. Two kids and one adult will cost you $120.

The Club says the fee includes participation in other community club run programs as well.

“I used to use this outdoor rink because it’s such a short walk away and now I’m not able to so it’s pretty sad,” said 15-year-old Trinity Grove, who lives directly across the street from the rink.

Trinity isn’t the only hockey player who stopped using the rink after the new fee was implemented at the start of winter.

Trinity Grove, 15, shooting pucks on her front driveway across the street from the St. Andrews Community Club rink. Randall Paul / Global News

“All you’d hear is pucks on the boards all night, and now it’s just silent,” says Trinity’s father, Glenn Grove.

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A notice is posted by the rink’s gate, letting users know their membership must be paid in order to use the rink.

Trinity walked to the rink earlier this week and was told to go home because her name didn’t appear on the registration list.

“There was a guy in his truck, and he called me over,” she said. Trinity was then asked if she was a member of the community club.

“I said no, and he checked a list of names and said: ‘You’re not on it, I can’t let you on.'”

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The community club says it was forced to implement the $60 per child fee.

“The RM doesn’t own the facility and the RM does not pay anything towards it, especially the outdoor rink,” says the club’s president, Rob Ataman.

He claims that the rural municipality owes the community club $150,000.

“How do you have a facility — or anything, for that matter — unless somebody pays for it?” Ataman continued.

St. Andrews Mayor Joy Sul says the community club’s $50,000 annual grant was cut off in 2016.

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Frustrated parents, including Glenn Grove (right) and Darcy Gascoigne (middle), discuss their concerns with Mayor Joy Sul. Global News / File

That was the last year the community club filed a financial report detailing how they were spending their money.

“Unfortunately, our only involvement with the community club is providing grant money, as we do to every other club in the RM,” said Sul.

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For parents like Trinity’s father, the hope is that the ongoing financial dispute can be settled without the kids having to suffer the consequences.

“Give (Trinity) a piece of paper explaining the fees,” he said.

“Let the kid skate and send it home with them instead of having her come home and tell me she’s not allowed to skate.”

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