They can now start making plans to return to the ice in the Fort Town.
Infrastructure funding for a new arena and community centre to be built near the north end of Sophia Street in Prescott was announced on Wednesday. Construction is slated to begin this summer.
Vicki Sargeant, president of the South Grenville Minor Hockey Association (SGMHA), congratulated the Town of Prescott and the partnering Township of Augusta as well as the local fundraising committee that have been “working so hard” to do their part to support the Prescott project.
“I think it’s amazing that they were able to pull this all together… I’m really thrilled this is going to happen.”
She believes the multi-purpose recreational facility, which includes a rink, will be “uplifting” for the area and well-used.
The local minor hockey organization had to scramble when it was announced late in the summer of 2018 that the ice surface at the Leo Boivin Community Centre across the street from Fort Wellington had been closed permanently.
Sargeant indicated that the SGMHA was “shocked” and as surprised by the news, which came as the start of a new hockey season approached.
“It made us take a hard look at things,” she noted.
The association had been fortunate to have three arenas with which to work, according to the president; the other two are in Cardinal and Spencerville. Minor hockey reached out to the Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal, which Sargeant noted was and has been accommodating to serve the needs of the association in the absence of a rink in Prescott.
“They’ve been wonderful to help us,” she said.
Sargeant was unsure of what percentage of SGMHA’s ice time had been in Prescott.
“Our players, our families have been very supportive,” she said, adding that the executive has been working hard to put as many teams on the ice as much as possible.
The South Grenville association had about 240 players in 2020-2021, which was down from the previous “pre-COVID” season.
The community centre in Prescott also served as home to the Leo Boivin Showcase, the renowned annual midget hockey tournament created in the 1970s. With the closure of the ice surface, showcase organizers had to seek a new location for 2019.
Sargeant, who also chairs the showcase committee, pointed out that South Dundas “stepped up” and offered the arena in Morrisburg as an alternate venue. The late-season tournament was a success there in March 2019. The emerging pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 showcase; this year’s tournament was also scrubbed.
There are no plans at this time for the 2022 showcase because of the uncertainty over how the pandemic will affect things like hockey tournaments in the months ahead, according to Sargeant.
“We’re waiting… we want that tournament back on the ice as much as all of the fans do.”
Construction of the new facility in Prescott is projected to be completed by late 2022 or early 2023. The golden anniversary of the showcase is only a couple of years away, Sargeant noted.
“The Leo committee has always been looking forward to the 50th, which isn’t that far off,” she said. “It would be great to be able to celebrate the 50th.”
SGMHA registration for 2021-2022 opens today. Fees are the same as last season.