Skip to content

Sports and recreation takes hit due to city strike

Many sport and recreation groups utilize facilities such as the Multiplex, Yk Community Arena and the Fieldhouse — or at least they did before unionized city workers went on strike.
Yellowknife soccer players, fans, parents and coaches gathered at the Fieldhouse to watch the live World Cup game between Canada and Croatia this past November. The Fieldhouse is one of the facilities that has fallen victim to the strike action between unionized employees and the city, forcing user groups to find other ways to provide programming. NNSL file photo

Many sport and recreation groups utilize facilities such as the Multiplex, Yk Community Arena and the Fieldhouse — or at least they did before unionized city workers went on strike.

All three of those locations are now closed until further notice and that means user groups will have to either get creative with programming or stop altogether until a deal is reached between the city and the union.

The Yk Minor Hockey Association is perhaps the biggest group affected by the strike — its programming has been cancelled, according to Steve Thompson, the association’s president. That includes all regular season games and the Chris Bergman Memorial Tournament, which was scheduled to kick off on Friday afternoon.

Speaking to Yellowknifer, Thompson said the association had been holding on to hope that a deal would be reached to allow things to operate as normal.

“All of our programming is off until everything gets settled,” he said. “Our tournament co-ordinator was going to get in touch with the out-of-town teams to let them know (about the tournament), but they were all aware before now that this was a possibility.”

Thompson is also president of the Yellowknife Gymnastics Club and that organization is in a different situation than other groups that use the Multiplex. The club owns its portion of the building, meaning it’s not exposed to the picket lines that have been set up at other city-run locations.

Parents and youth will be able to enter through the side door of the club in order to access the facility, according to Thompson, but there’s one scenario which could cause things to change quickly.

“If the union decides it’s going to picket by the side door, we’ll stop our programming,” he said. “We don’t want to put our families in the situation of crossing a picket line, so we’d just put everything on hold if that’s the case.”

However, in a post to the club’s Facebook page Tuesday, Thompson stated that it will be business as usual and the situation will be monitored. He also stated that the condition of the parking lot at the Multiplex in terms of snow and ice build-up and the location of any picket lines will be taken into consideration when making any decision in the future.

The city has already stated that all non-essential snow removal has been postponed until further notice.

The Yk Rec Hockey League is in the same boat as minor hockey with all of its games cancelled until at least Feb. 14, according to league president Charles Wyman.

He said that once the labour dispute is settled, the league would need 72 hours to reorganize with the focus turning toward whether there will be playoffs before spring break.

“Really, we’re just waiting to see if there will be time to fit it in (and) if we will still be able to host an Easter tournament,” he said.

The Yk Galaxy Soccer Club, which hosts a majority of its programming at the Fieldhouse, confirmed on Wednesday that operations have been suspended until the strike comes to an end.

Defny Torindo, the club’s administrative co-ordinator, said parents were contacted as soon as the club found out it wouldn’t be able to operate.

“We’re really sad for the kids, but it is what it is,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do but wait.”

The Yellowknife Bay Soccer Club, though, has managed to find some gym time at N.J. Macpherson School over the next few weeks to make up for what it will lose at the Fieldhouse.

Joe Acorn, the club’s director, said it’s better than nothing.

“I was going through (options) with the booking clerk at the Fieldhouse on Monday and got some times booked,” he said. “All of the bigger gyms like St. Pat’s, Sir John Franklin, William McDonald, they’re all booked solid, so there wasn’t a lot available. We managed to get about four or five weeks at N.J. It’s a smaller gymnasium, but it beats nothing at all.”

Acorn figures he’ll be able to get his players together at least one to two times per week.

About the Author: James McCarthy

I'm the managing editor with NNSL Media and have been so since 2022.
Read more