Capreol’s beloved arena is facing hard times. Our fully-paid-for twin-pad community rink—once the pride of the region—is on City Council’s proverbial chopping block. Arguments can be, and have been, made as to the arena’s importance to the community, the potential for improvement, and even the folly of closing one of our town’s ice surfaces to make room for a newer arena in Valley East. (Scroll through mycapreol’s past posts for more in-depth thoughts on the controversial issue.)

This post isn’t about the poor decision making of our political leadership or the fanciful arithmetic being used to defend their misguidedly lavish plans for replacing our aging but functioning arena by saddling taxpayers with a $50 million debt to finance a luxurious hockey palace in a neighbouring community. No, we’re going to push past all that anger and negativity and focus on the future.

The harsh reality is, sooner or later, Capreol’s arena is going to be shut down. The city is determined to build new and that means getting rid of the old—regardless of cost or community-crippling harm. And, for all the affection our town holds for the Capreol Memorial Arena, where generations of citizens have spent uncounted happy hours, no one can deny that our rink is starting to show its age. (Much of the blame can be laid at the city’s feet—they are refusing to perform necessary maintenance—but we’re not here to point out the city’s failings…that would require another entire post!) This inevitable closure might start with just one ice surface but, as anyone who’s been paying attention knows, it won’t stop there.

The question Capreol residents need to decide upon is simple: What then? Do we go home and cry in our beers as the town’s rink is boarded up? Or do we fight on, working to make lemonade out of a dump-truck worth of lemons? Remember this is ‘The Little Town That Could’! We’ve fought the good fight before…and won. Vast multi-national corporations couldn’t ruin us. Faceless government bureaucracies tried for decades to stifle us…in vain. Surely, working together, we can overcome the short-sightedness of our city-centric mayor and spend-happy council!

The most likely scenario going forward is Ice #1 being closed first. Plans have already been floated by the city to shutter our arena’s older ice surface. That will leave half of the building sitting empty. Instead of lamenting what once was, Capreolites need to look to the future and imagine what will be. Let’s look past the crisis and focus on the opportunity.

A decade or so back, when Ice #1 was temporarily closed, Capreol residents worked with local youth to create an indoor skateboard park. This outside-the-box thinking proved a great success…until the city shut it down. Liability issues, apparently. (Those concerns didn’t seem to apply to the brand-new city-funded skateboard park built in Minnow Lake—but then Capreol often seems to face different rules than Sudbury!) We need to recapture that ‘Can-Do’ spirit.

So, I ask you, loyal reader: What can we do with an unused Ice #1? If the ice is gone what are the town’s alternatives? Remember, a busy arena is much more difficult for city bureaucrats to close. Even moderate usage could help keep Ice #2 in operation and stave off the wrecking ball. (That last is exaggeration for effect. No one, as far as I know, is proposing demolishing Capreol’s arena…yet.)

There are obvious ideas—broomball, roller skating, and roller hockey—things that take advantage of the facility’s existing structures.

The dressing rooms may be small and old but all are functional. The floor is level, with a large open area. And the boards and glass are in place and useable too. Perfect for sports. Indoor soccer. Dryland training. Options abound.

I think a mini-putt might work. Golf is popular enough with both young and old that it should draw a decent amount of traffic. Charge a couple of bucks a round and it might even turn a small profit—especially if volunteers run things. I even have a name and a theme in mind: Pup Pup Mini Golf. Not the most Capreol-specific, I admit, but everyone loves dogs, right? And that would be its charm—every aspect would be dog themed (bones, food dishes, leash and collar, puppy pads, chew toys, dog house, etc., all would be incorporated in the design). Or we could go with a railroad theme. It’s a bit obvious but no doubt the NORMHC would be on board. God knows there’s enough CN memorabilia floating around town to build a hundred mini-putts!

Perhaps a weekly or by-weekly market of some sort would work? Capreol has hosted numerous successful craft shows in the past and even operated a farmer’s market for a couple summers. A year-round, indoor location, has the potential to succeed, surely? And what about conventions and trade shows, those might be interesting possibilities? Graphic-Con alone draws 5,000+ to the Sudbury Arena, surely some of those people would drive out to Capreol for a second show in the fall. Most of the geeks—I mean attendees—I talked with seemed intrigued with the idea.

Heck, perhaps the town can just rent the facilities out and let people run their own events. Dances, weddings, birthday parties—the possibilities are almost limitless.

What do you suggest? Post your thoughts in the Comments below or email them to

Posted on: January 11, 2020, by :

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