Tyne Valley rink

The Tyne Valley Fire Department responded to the call that the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre was on fire around 2:50 am on Dec. 29. The fire department called for mutual aid, with Wellington, Lennox Island, O’Leary, Miscouche and Summerside all on scene helping with the blaze. Melissa Heald photo

Tyne Valley officials are already in the process of making plans to rebuild the community’s rink following a devastating fire that destroyed the building on Dec. 29.

“Everybody’s down, for sure, but there’s a lot of positive thoughts and we are moving forward quickly,” said the mayor of Tyne Valley, Jeff Noye, in an interview with the Graphic on Monday. “We’re getting at it right away. We’re planning the new rink.”

Residents of Tyne Valley awoke to the news Sunday morning that the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre had been destroyed by fire overnight.

The rink was built in early 60s with major renovations done in the 2000s. Steel encasing the original wooden structure made fighting the fire difficult.

“It’s like wood inside a tin can,” said William Bishop, chief of the Tyne Valley Fire Department, at the scene on Sunday.

Mr Bishop said the fire department received the call about the fire around 2:50 am on Dec. 29.

“The flames were coming out the front and flames were coming out of the roof,” he said. “They were coming out the front door almost to the road.”

Mutual aid was called, with the fire departments of Wellington, Lennox Island, O’Leary, Miscouche and Summerside all on scene helping with the blaze.

An excavator was brought to the scene to deal with the steel exterior.

“The existing building was covered in steel, so we had to get the steel off in order to get to the fire,” explained Mr Bishop.

Mr Bishop said firefighters managed to safely get the rink’s Zamboni machine out of the building.

Harold Millar was one local resident who came down Sunday to the scene after seeing a post on social media about the fire.

Mr Millar played high school hockey at the rink and was a member of the sports centre’s board for over 20 years.

“It’s kind of sad,” said Mr Millar as tears welled up in his eyes. “But I’m sure they will be in the rebuilding stage pretty soon... It’s a hell of a loss.”

Mr Noye said there were meetings Sunday night and additional meetings on Monday, with many meetings more likely to take place the rest of the week, where members of the Tyne Valley council, the rink board and concerned residents would be discussing the future of the rink and the process moving forward.

“It’s a small community,” said the mayor. ”There’s a lot of people who want to see it go ahead.”

Mr Noye added there has already been discussions with both the provincial and federal government about possible financial help for the reconstruction of the rink.

“We’re planning on building here as soon as possible,” said the mayor. “We’re just doing a lot of discussions and planning right now.”

In the meantime, plans are being worked out with other rinks to provide ice time for both local minor hockey teams and the local figure skating club.

“Some teams are getting placed in other arenas and they’re working with all the other minor hockey associations and figure skating associations to see how much ice time they can find,” said Mr Noye. “We’re get it all figured out.”

Mr Noye said communities from Summerside west have been reaching out to Tyne Valley to offer assistance.

“There’s definitely a lot of support there,” he said. “We will pull together.”

Mr Noye called the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre the heartbeat of the community.

“It’s not just because there’s hockey or figure skating that goes on there,” he said. “It’s the home of the (Tyne Valley) oyster festival. It’s our gathering spot that we all go to. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from or what your beliefs are, you’re linked to that rink, you’re linked to that arena. It’s definitely a big loss.”

Mr Noye said it’s early days and there’s always possibilities of setbacks, but there is hope the new rink will be rebuilt within the year.

“We would like to be skating on it some time next winter,” he said.

The cause of the fire continues to be investigated by the provincial fire marshal’s office.

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