When the decision was made to hold a rally on Jan. 11 to kick off Tyne Valley’s bid for Kraft Hockeyville 2020, organizers expected to get about 300 to 400 people in attendance.
Instead, they got somewhere around 1,000.
“It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon we were notified about buses coming and a number of different people from other areas showing up, it was like ‘Whoa, this is going to be big’,” said Adam MacLennan, chair of the fundraising committee for the Tyne Valley rink.
People came from all parts of the Island, from places like Stratford, Pownall, Charlottetown, Kensington, and more, to show their support for the community.
One of those in attendance was Kendrick Banks, of Stratford. Mr Banks grew up in Tyne Valley, and felt it was important to attend the rally.
“I played hockey here for pretty near 20 years, and it’s something that’s always been there, it (the fire) was pretty devastating,” he said. “It’s a shame about the rink, and hopefully we can win Kraft Hockeyville and start the rebuilding process.”
He said he and his wife Angela plan on voting for Tyne Valley as much as they can.
Many showed up wearing hockey jerseys, mainly from the Tyne Valley region, bearing signs and cheering on the community. There’s also a social media hashtag for the community to promote its bid, #RallyForTheValley2020.
Jeff Noye, mayor of Tyne Valley, said things in the community have been different since a fire destroyed the rink in late December.
“Obviously there’s a big hole in your heart, but it’s also a lot of hope,” he said. “Anything like this will pull a community together, but I think Tyne Valley will be special. I’m a little biased on that, obviously, but I think we’re all going to pull together and get it done.”
The estimated cost to build a new rink is about $8 million. The community is applying to both the provincial and federal governments for financial help with the rebuild, but even with insurance covering some of the costs, they’re still expecting to pay about $5 million.
Residents of Tyne Valley will never know what caused their rink to burn down. The fire has been officially ruled undetermined by the provincial fire marshal’s office.
Addressing the rumours that the fire was set intentionally following two closures at the rink over air quality concerns, Mr Noye brushed those off as nothing more than foolishness, noting that you wouldn’t do an $8 million project for something that required a $20,000 fix.
The deadline for applications to Hockeyville is Feb. 9, but the fundraising committee wanted to get things started as early as they could to get as much support as possible.
“A lot of great people are backing us in this Hockeyville bid. This is PEI, this is what people are, this is amazing,” said Mr MacLennan. “When you have the full province that’s backing you on this, we feel like we’re doing a pretty good job so far. We like our chances, but the goal is to get in the top four.”
Within a day of the fire, hockey rinks in West Prince reached out, so every Minor Hockey team in Tyne Valley has a rink they can go to for practice.
Mr Noye believes people are realizing how important these rinks are for rural communities.
“They mean everything to us, it’s the backbone of every rural community on PEI, and I think that other rural communities know that if they lost their arena, what it would feel like,” he said. “They also know that if they lost theirs, we would be right there beside them. It’s how PEI works, we support each other no matter what.”
Mr Noye joked that once a new rink is built in Tyne Valley, they’ll likely go back to being combatants instead of friends, but right now everybody is pulling together and making sure the rebuild gets done.