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Dominion Arena marks 40 years in business
HALIFAX -- The community of Dominion, Nova Scotia, has seen better days. With many businesses and schools closing in the area, it’s not without its challenges. However, a local community hub, the Dominion Arena is celebrating its 40th anniversary and remains a beacon of the town’s vibrancy.
Zamboni driver, Mickey McNeil, has been resurfacing the ice at the dominion rink for nearly four decades; it's a job that's as Canadian as it gets – and one he loves.
“The job is very interesting; you meet a lot of people, and they all have stories to tell you,” says McNeil. “The children especially love to come down and sit on the machine and get their picture taken.”
The Dominion Arena is an anomaly when compared to many establishments in the community. While it has thrived for the past 40 years, schools and businesses have been shut down, boarded up and turned into parking lots.
“There's not too much around here now,” says Dominion Arena employee, Eileen Gillis. “We lost the schools, churches, and the garages – we lost a few things.”
Gillis takes pride in her work, keeping the rink clean. During the hockey season she can be found behind the penalty box – and during the off-season, she keeps the place spic and span.
“A lot of people compliment on how nice it is,” says Gillis.
First opening its doors in 1979, the old barn is not operated by Cape Breton Regional Municipality, like many others in the area. Instead, it's a non-profit entity – making its long run even more impressive.
“The team I play for myself, the Glace Bay Crusaders, has been coming to the Dominion rink since it opened,” says Glace Bay Minor Hockey Association president, James Edwards.
Edwards knows just how important the rink is to his association after The Miners home arena, the Bayplex, which is only half the age of the Dominion Arena, closed in July 2017 due to mould and deteriorating infrastructure.
“Had Dominion [Arena] not been here, who knows what would've happened to Glace Bay Minor Hockey,” says Edwards. “Not only for our players and staff, but we moved our office and manager here to Dominion rink.”
Meanwhile, McNeil says what makes the arena a success is the people and the pride they have for their community.
“Most hockey players say it's the best ice they ever skated on in the area,” says McNeil.