By Nick Bernard
Ice racing season is a go.
Earlier this month when the provincial government announced a modified version of Step Two of the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, the township of Minden Hills closed facilities that included the fairgrounds, similar to what happened during a provincial lockdown in 2021. The move prompted a number of responses, including a letter from the Minden Kin Club and the ILR Car Control School, saying the school is “an essential service that trains many other essential workers.”
In his report to council during its meeting on Jan 13, director of community services Craig Belfry said that a number of conversations were had with the Kin Club over the holidays.
“We’re just waiting for direction from council now whether we move ahead in some modified fashion, or just open it back up,” Belfry said. Currently, with the exception of the Kin Club, the township has received insurance information and COVID safety plans from all groups planning to use the fairgrounds. “If we do open it up to the public, again, we’ll still need that COVID safety plan.”
Minden Mayor Brent Devolin said he supported the re-opening of the fairgrounds, as long as everyone is following public health protocols like social distancing.
“I think we’re in a different place and we know some things that we didn’t a year ago,” Devolin said, saying he’s seen little evidence of community transmission through outdoor events. He also mentioned the mental health aspect. “I think it’s been a tough time for people, and we need to do things that are out of doors … with the caveat that all safety measures that can be taken for the properties are adhered to. But in principle, I would like to move forward [with resuming events at the fairground] given that all the conditions are met.”
According to Belfry, the onus will be on the municipality to enforce compliance with COVID protocols at the fairgrounds, but, with limited staffing resources, it would have to rely on the honour system.
“As it’s outdoor, there isn’t a screening requirement because they are not walking through an indoor facility,” he clarified.
Council passed a motion to re-open the fairgrounds, on the condition that all organizers submit a COVID-19 safety plan and insurance coverage.
Kin Club president Andy Rickard said he was delighted by the decision.
“It is great that our council recognises the importance of these events for our community and for the mental health of the participants,” he told the Times in an email. “We are working out the details of the season with the Kin Club and the racers.“
Work on the ice track began again the next day. Ice racing events will be held beginning in February, into the first week of March.
Information on the ILR Car Control program can be found on their website at carcontrolschool.com.