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Amherst ice-time pilot project getting attention

Cade Mosher and Ethan Rose of the Cumberland County Peewee AA Ramblers play against the Yarmouth Mariners in hockey action at the Amherst Stadium on Sunday. Use of the Amherst Stadium is up by 12 to 15 hours a week this year in part thanks to a free-icetime pilot project the town announced during the summer.
Cade Mosher and Ethan Rose of the Cumberland County Peewee AA Ramblers play against the Yarmouth Mariners in hockey action at the Amherst Stadium on Sunday. Use of the Amherst Stadium is up by 12 to 15 hours a week this year in part thanks to a free-icetime pilot project the town announced during the summer.

AMHERST – Amherst’s free ice program appears to be gaining a lot of attention.

Last summer, in an effort to increase physical fitness levels among young people and to increase use of the Amherst Stadium, Amherst announced a program in which youth programs, such as minor hockey and figure skating, would benefit from free icetime at the stadium throughout the winter season.

Last summer, in an effort to increase physical fitness levels among young people and to increase use of the Amherst Stadium, Amherst announced a program in which youth programs, such as minor hockey and figure skating, would benefit from free icetime at the stadium throughout the winter season.

Half way through the program, the town’s recreation director feels it has been a positive experience for stadium users and the town. He said stadium useage is up 12 to 15 hours a week and there are now early morning bookings by minor hockey teams – something the stadium hasn’t had in several years.

“We’re very pleased with the comments we’ve received back where their participants have received some savings in their registration costs,” Bill Schurman said after speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday. “We’re very pleased with the number of teams and organizations from outside of Amherst who have come to town. They have found teams to play and stayed here for the night or for the weekend.”

Last month, the Rothesay Netherwoods men’s hockey team played a two-game exhibition series with Newbridge Academy. The team is coached by Amherst’s Jeff Lewis, while Kansas Hart plays with the team.

During the Christmas break the Canadian Figure Skating Association will be using Amherst for an elite camp. Schurman said one of the biggest reasons they selected Amherst was because of the free icetime.

He expects these events will also translate into economic activity in the community with hotel bookings and at restaurants.

“The investment we have made in ice is going to pay dividends in the business community,” Schurman said. “They will stay, eat and hopefully shop in the community.”

On top of that, other communities are looking to Amherst for information on the program. Schurman said town officials have been invited to talk to other municipalities to share the story.

“We’ve had emails from across North America from those who want to understand the story and what we’re doing here. It’s a story about investment, not expense,” he said. “It’s an investment in our youth and physical activity and it’s an investment in the determinants of health. We’re hoping that for what we’re investing our people will get more of a return in increased physical activity and increased participation and enrolment in youth programs.”

Schurman said the program will be evaluated in the spring to determine whether it will continue next year and beyond.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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