Former Canadian offers her thoughts on ice rink plan

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

I WISH to commend the Wellington Shire Council on its recent forward thinking proposal to convert the Sale outdoor swimming pool to an ice rink during the winter months.

However, I am concerned that council did not think to consult me, as a former Canadian now proud Australian with considerable experience with winter, ice, and winter sports.

While the proposal has considerable merit, I would point out some concerns.

1. The suggestion of tobogganing is an excellent one, but I wonder if those offering it realise that a hill of considerable height and length is required to get a good toboggan run. The fact that the size of the toboggans is not mentioned is a problem two-man, four-man, six or eight-man toboggans? These dimensions affect the size of the hill. Then there is the site of the hill. Perhaps with some minor alterations, the Botanic Gardens could be used, though the prospect of overshooting and landing in Lake Guthridge would require safety fencing an added expense which I wonder if council has factored into its plans.

2. Secondly, I note that the proposal seems to imply both ice hockey and figure skating being held at the rink. In my experience, the two pastimes do not mix. You would either have to have two rinks (as was the case at my Canadian primary school) or separate times for the two sports. Note that ice hockey requires boards of considerable size around the rink, as well as a method of preventing the hockey puck from being hit out of the rink, potentially injuring a spectator.

3. I note that Cr Rossetti is holding a field hockey stick in the Gippsland Times photo. I do hope someone acquaints him with an ice hockey stick in the near future.

4. Skates: Does council envisage a skate hire service, as few residents will actually own skates? Are councillors aware that there are two different sorts of skates figure skates and ice hockey skates? Perhaps the supply of skates could be put out to tender and be the start of a new, albeit seasonal, business in Sale. Such a business could also rent out toboggans as well. Indeed, a cottage industry could be established to teach residents to make their own toboggans.

5. Penguins: I have no objection to penguins in principle, but will they be housed on the rink or in a facility built next to it? There seems to me considerable danger in mixing penguins and skaters in the same area. The resultant accidents and blood on the ice could have serious consequences.

6. A Russian figure skater: While I am sure that Miss Vursd is a fine champion, do we really have to look to Russia for a world class skater? Surely some local former Canadian, who skated from the time she was a toddler until she left Canada for Australia would be more appropriate. With considerable humility, I must admit that I refer to myself here. In fact, I am thinking that I could start a nice little retirement business teaching people how to figure skate. I would leave ice hockey to someone else, it being such a violent sport.

In conclusion, I think the idea of a skating rink has much to recommend it.

I am disappointed that there was not sufficient notice of Friday night’s council meeting to allow me to attend and raise the above issues.

I hope that, if council members voted to proceed with the project, they will take note of my remarks.

If they have declined to pursue this interesting venture, I hope that my comments might give them enough food for thought to reconsider the issue at a future date.

Editor’s note: The observant Mrs Cribbes will also no doubt have noted that Cr Rossetti, in addition to holding a field hockey stick, was wearing motorbike boots. While the adage “never let the truth ruin a good story” does not apply for this newspaper at other times, on April 1 Gippsland Times reporter Justine Kidding, admittedly a bit of a loose cannon, is given free reign. In the past she has broken scoops including stories about cows producing chocolate milk, plans to change the name of Sale, a proposal to build an oil rig in Lake Guthridge, a carp processing facility at the Swing Bridge and a toll gate on the new bridges at Wurruk as part of highway duplication works.