Ice users in Windsor come together to plot a course of action for the future

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The focus for ice users of all kinds was the focus of an open house on Tuesday evening.

The Future of Curling Windsor-Essex Committee held the open house and information session for all ice users in Windsor-Essex at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch on Howard Avenue.

Between 40-50 people turned out on Tuesday, representing different affected user groups from curling to hockey to figure skating.

The open house was to explain the impacts on the various user groups depending on where curling is ultimately moved to, and find common ground when it comes to the future.

All ice users in the city are worried about the future of their sport, and whether they'll be able to continue to play, use the ice they traditionally have, and continue providing programs.

Back in August, Windsor city council made the decision to shut down curling at Roseland Golf and Curling Club. 

A decision on where curling would end up was delayed, after delegates voiced concerns about being displaced if curlers were forced into the Corporal A.P. Grenon Memorial Rink at the WFCU Centre.

The issue was also a source of discussion at Windsor's Ward 1 meeting at the beginning of the month.

Local curlers say they want to work with all ice users to possibly come up with alternatives that can be suggested to officials at the City that keeps everyone happy.

Jim MacLachlan, president of the Windsor Curling Club Seniors Association, says it was all about having a single voice on the issue.

"All ice users, not curling against the hockey people or the figure skating people. Because everybody's losing ice. If we lose ice and take theirs, then they're in the same boat we were. So we don't really want that. At the end of the day somebody's going to be very unhappy. If we end up at WFCU or Capri, that means we're pushing somebody out," he said.

There was healthy skepticism in the room over the City of Windsor's handling of the entire situation, but MacLachlan says they're still hopeful based on past conversations.

"They've made comments like curling won't just be in Windsor, but it'll be better. We'll lets see that, if that's the way it's going to be let's see it. We're hoping that they come up with a plan that doesn't displace other ice users, and I'm sure the other ice users are hoping for the same thing."

Francine Stadler, President of the Sun Parlour Female Hockey Association, says the impact on them all depends on what arena is chosen to shift the curlers to.

"If they choose Capri, that will displace a lot of our teams and we'll have to find ice at the other arenas. If it's WFCU it's not quite as bad, but we play at all the major arenas except for Adie Knox. In some way, shape or form it will affect Sun Parlour Female Hockey Association."

She doesn't believe that everyone is getting the information that they need from the City of Windsor.

Stadler says they were invited to speak at council back in the summer, but it's been quiet since.

"And really there's been no communication with the user groups since then," she continued. "So I'm glad that this meeting is occurring, just so that we can get all on the same page and be able to move forward with what's best for the entire community."

Ben Iannetta, from the Future of Curling in Windsor-Essex committee, says they're stronger as a united front.

"I think we're just trying to get more uniformed and unison on the decision that we can help push the City towards so that no one is displaced and no one feels left out."

He says there's more hope than frustration about finding a solution that works for everybody.

"I think the City could go further, and more needs to be done. I think that's what you're hearing a lot of, that a lot of people just weren't considered. And I think maybe the City just didn't really understand the whole scope and breadth that their decision would have," Iannetta said.

The various speakers on Tuesday represented local curling groups, hockey associations, and figure skating clubs throughout the city with each explaining how they'd be impacted by a potential move.

Organizers say all ice users are concerned about their home location and ice times being changed, so they're hoping to work together on a viable solution for everyone.

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(Photo taken by AM800's Aaron Mahoney)