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LETTER: A rink we all deserve

['Letter to the editor']
['Letter to the editor']

Will this be our generations Michelin? Will our kids hear the stories of opportunity lost, like we did?  Of course I am referring to the Birthplace of Hockey project.  

It's an absolute disgrace and a failure on behalf of community leaders that this unfolded as it did.  

We are a community in Canada that proudly claims title as the Birthplace of Hockey yet projects supposed to celebrate that have divided the community and, in my opinion, missed the mark on what this community deserves. 

We deserve infrastructure that is world class and allows us to host international tournaments and NHL training camps. We deserve infrastructure that promotes and celebrates our status. We deserve infrastructure that will become a must see tourist destination and a Mecca to the Hockey world. We deserve infrastructure that will transform our community. 

How do we get there? First we need a plan to build a worthy project that includes infrastructure at both suggested sites, and more. It needs to be designed to ensure maximum economic and social benefit, and it needs to be the centre of our community. 

This is Canada. A well designed and thought out plan will attract major corporate sponsors. Do you think Tim Hortons, Rogers, Canadian Tire, et cetera, would want naming rights or a sponsorship partnership with a world class Birthplace of Hockey facility that draws hockey fans from around the world and hosts major events? I sure do. 

Our community also needs to step up and raise money. When we create the right plan by fully engaging the community, grassroots fundraising is much easier. A capital campaign with lofty goals by the community must be created. Without community buy in it is bound to fail.   

Government money is available. In fact, a better plan will open up more doors to access funds. This project won't just benefit our community it will benefit the whole province. It is much easier to get government on board when you have community buy in and corporate backing, so the better the plan the more options you have. 

Right now sides have been picked, lines have been drawn and frustration is growing. 

I will go back to an earlier point. We are a Canadian community that is the Birthplace of Hockey. We are going to build some kind of hockey infrastructure in the near future. The current plans are unraveling and the community is divided. That should tell you something is wrong. 

We need to start fresh today. A better plan needs to be created. It needs to be a plan that is worthy of this once in a lifetime opportunity. It needs to unite our community in excitement and pride. It needs to be so glorious in scope that it creates a line up of corporate sponsors who want to be associated with what will be a must see spot for hockey fans from around the world. 

This is the moment. If we get this wrong, if we let it divide us, if we squander this opportunity, we will forever regret it and will have done our children and grandchildren a grave disservice. 

So let's think big. We deserve it. We are the Birthplace of Hockey, and if hockey teaches us anything, it's that we can't win without our team.  So it's time we all got on the same team. 

The two councils should hold meeting(s) at the community centre and restart this whole process in an open and public way. Leadership comes with responsibility and they need to start leading.  If they won't, we need new leaders. 

 

Joey Archibald

Born and raised in St. Croix 

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