Glace Bay learn-to-skate program returns after uncertainty
SYDNEY, N.S. -- A popular learn-to-skate program for Cape Breton kids is back where it all started, after facing an uncertain future.
With the newly-renovated Miners Forum -- formerly the Bayplex -- ready to reopen, organizers and participants of Glace Bay's learn-to-skate program are eager to get back on the ice.
“It’s pretty exciting,” says program founder Nick Bonnar. “You get goosebumps because you’re here so much. It’s just a moment in time when you’re not going to forget the first time you were in the building.”
The free skating lessons were in limbo when the Bayplex -- Glace Bay’s only rink -- closed more than three years ago due to mould and structural damage.
While the game of hockey is a national pasttime and Canadian tradition, it isn’t the cheapest sport to play.
The cost of gear and league fees for some is in the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and that’s where the Learn-to-Skate program comes in -- designed to offer free ice time and gear for kids wanting to lace up their skates and hit the ice.
“Just seeing the enjoyment and the pride on the parent's face when they get something for their kids they may not be able to afford. It’s a joy seeing that, and I believe that is something special,” says volunteer Tim Fowler.
“We had easily over 1,700 sets of gear passed out in the last three years,” says Fowler.
Bonnar, Fowler and other volunteers spent Thursday stocking a Bayplex storage room with hundreds of sets of new and used equipment, donated by community members or purchased through money from grants.
Bonnar says a brand new building to play in will only help grow his program.
“Anytime you have something new in the area, especially a sports arena, I think the kids are going to be more excited. We will draw more kids for sure,” says Bonnar.
All it took was a cube van, a couple of trips and a few days to transport all the gear to Glace Bay’s new Miners Forum.
It is a day that Bonnar says the community has been waiting on for a while.
“I think it’s going to work well,” says Bonnar. “The program is not about us, it’s about the kids that are learning to skate and have fun. That’s what we’re here for.”
The first on-ice session of the learn-to-skate program at its ‘new home’ is next Thursday.