Islanders got a rare chance to skate on the frozen Port Clements mud bogs and nearby lakes for a few weeks this December and January.

Islanders got a rare chance to skate on the frozen Port Clements mud bogs and nearby lakes for a few weeks this December and January.

An Ice House for Haida Gwaii

Terry Wallace, an islander and hockey fan, says the road to a Haida Gwaii ice rink won't be smooth, but it's well worth taking.

For me, the best part about hockey is setting someone up to score.

Metaphorically speaking, setting anyone up to score in life is probably a good motto to follow. The more people given the chance to score now, the more people will score down the road. Here on Haida Gwaii, life should be no different. If we were to build an ice rink, we would be setting up our youth for success.

Now I bet you’re going to say that an ice rink on Haida Gwaii is not do-able for various reasons, and let me tell you in the short time I’ve heard people talk about a rink here, I have heard many. But I would beg to differ. Probably the toughest roadblock will be to convince the islands that an ice rink is possible.

If you look across this country there are hundreds of towns with fewer people than Haida Gwaii, many of which have fully functioning ice rinks. On the B.C. coast alone, a place that shares many of the same challenges we would in building a rink, many towns have ice rinks or are getting one. They share the exact same climate and are the same size or smaller in population.

Current refrigeration technologies are much more advanced than even 20 years ago. Even with up-to-date equipment, there will still be significant operating costs connected to an ice rink. But with a group of dedicated volunteers and a committee, a lot of the man-hours leading to those costs could be absorbed.

Electricity costs will undoubtedly be the second significant hurdle, and there are ways to minimize those if not make them non-existent. With the current grants offered by companies and governments to lower the carbon footprint of recreational buildings, there is no reason why the roof of the facility could not be lined with solar panels, maybe even a wind generator to produce power not only during the three to five months of operation, but also during the off-season when the building is not consuming the same amount of power. It may prove to be a profitable exercise.

This recent cold snap has been a big push in getting this idea in motion, and it has also been eye-opening to see all the new faces out to enjoy the frozen lakes, ponds, sloughs, even mud bogs. Even after playing roller hockey in Masset for a few years, many of the faces on ice are completely new. It shows that real ice has a much larger following than the roller rink, and ice will get people out of the woodwork, mingling with other residents of the islands. It has recently motivated enough of us that we have begun the steps to create a committee towards the development of a Haida Gwaii ice rink and it will allow us to look at the logistics in a lot more detail.

The road to an ice rink is going to be long and bumpy, but we will get there. Kevin Costner once said in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he will come.” If we build a rink, our island will come out in flocks and our youth will be given one more way to succeed.

— Terry Wallace


The Haida Gwaii Observer welcomes opinion-editorials from any Haida Gwaii residents with a point of view to share. Op-eds should be between 500 and 800 words, and sent the Friday before publication to or dropped off in person at the Queen Charlotte office, at 623 7th Street.