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FAQs – RA Curling Centre of Excellence


  1. The new Centre comes as a complete surprise to RA Curling Club (RACC) members – it will change their traditions and overall curling experience. How was the decision made to develop the Curling Centre of Excellence (CCE)?  Was the RACC and/or club members consulted/involved in the development of the Centre proposal?

Covid-19 forced the RA to reassess and re-think every part of their operations.  During the 16-month long pandemic, the RA faced many challenges, one of which was and continues to be developing our future to help support overall growth of the organization and financial stability to aid in our recovery.

After considerable review, the RA determined that curling remains aligned with our not-for-profit mission and a cornerstone of our core services.  More importantly, curling presents an opportunity to help with the RA's long-term recovery and growth and provide our dedicated RACC members with an augmented on- and off-ice curling experience.

Your RACC Executive Committee was not initially involved in the development of the proposal but will be actively involved in the development of the Centre as we move forward with programming and construction of the space.  While we appreciate this will mean change for our club members, we also know it’s a much-needed re-development of curling.

 

  1. Why did pickleball not go into the arena instead of curling?

We know there would have been a need to invest roughly $500,000 into the current curling pads within the next year or two.  In order to continue with curling at the RA and expand on the programming, we needed to think outside the box.  This brought about a new plan which includes a two-phase redevelopment.

Our hockey arena pads were replaced in 2009 and are in much better condition than our curling pads.  Moving our curling operations into a facility that offers a newer in-floor refrigeration system makes sense, and while there is a capital investment required for pickleball, it does not involve the pad.  As part of the Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities Fund we received a grant to be used to expand Pickleball and offset the costs of the new sport-flooring required.  In fact, the Curling Centre of Excellence and the designated Pickleball Facility projects co-exist, creating an improved financial position for both clubs.

 

  1. Why is this happening so quickly this fall? Could it not have been delayed a year to get members “prepared” for the change?

There is a saying “strike while the iron is hot”.  The pandemic has created incredible hardship for the RA and forced some tough decisions.  Like you, the RA would have loved to have had more time to help get members prepared for change; however, that was not an option.  This has to happen now or never.  In order for the RA to continue to work towards financial stability, these types of projects can’t be pushed back to allow an adjustment period.  While we appreciate this is a change for our members, having curling start in the new space this fall is a vital step towards our recovery plan.

 

  1. Is the RA Centre working with any sport partners to deliver this project?

With the creation of the House of Sport, over 40 Multi-Sport and National Sport Organizations now call the RA home.  This has provided a number of opportunities to improve the RA facilities and sports that we offer.  CurlON is a tenant of the House of Sport and will be involved in the creation of the Curling Centre of Excellence. There are additional opportunities to work with Curling Canada on special events and training programs. For example, Curling Canada would run their Level 3 National Ice Technician Program at the RA at the start of each season beginning this fall, providing RACC members with a quality, competition-ready, stadium-ice playing surface annually.  The RA will continue to work with both organizations, and others, to ensure we are offering the best of curling to a wide range of individuals.

 

  1. What changes will be required to the arena to modify it for curling? Are there major structural changes or repairs needed?  Are there any new regulatory requirements that will need to be met (e.g. Building or Fire Codes, Public Health)?

Very little is required to move from hockey ice to  curling ice – the most essential work being new dehumidification, heating and LED lighting.  Things like viewing and seating, lounge space, locker rooms, accessibility, etc., are all quite significant and will be undertaken over multiple years.  The RA will share renderings of this space shortly.

 

  1. Why will there only be 5 full sheets and not 6?

The ice pad in this new formation will only fit 5 full sheets and a couple of short sheets for practice, training, learning and clinics.

 

  1. How is arena ice different? Will the speed and curl be different?

We consulted with a senior member of the CurlON Ice Team to best answer this question.  The biggest difference with arena curling ice is the compressor size and air circulation in the building, not so much the ice itself.  In terms of curl and speed, it is actually our new rocks that will present the biggest difference.  New rocks are heavier and will travel faster down the ice.  It was suggested to “throw a lot of handle (rotation), and don’t be narrow!”  New rocks also have narrower striking bands and will be livelier when struck.

 

  1. Who is the manager of the Curling Centre of Excellence? What role does the RACC play in the Centre?

The Curling Centre of Excellence forms part of the greater RA Centre facility.  RA Club Management staff will continue to work in partnership with the RACC to offer curling to RACC members.  RA staff will work with other partners or guests to ensure that the Centre is occupied and generating revenue to help with operational and capital costs.

 

  1. Who will be organizing and coordinating new activities and programs mentioned in the RA’s communication to members? Will these activities be part of the RACC or separate?

The RACC and RA Club Management will jointly work together to fill the ice with curling.  Our collective interest is to maintain the tried and true and expand in areas where there is growth potential.  This means the RA will work with partners and the community to identify underserved areas in the sport of curling.

 

AMENITIES

  1. The RA’s communication to members noted that the timeframe to create vibrant social spaces and curling lounges is to be determined (TBD). Having a space for curlers to socialize is an integral component of a curling club.
    1. Can you be more specific as to how long this might take?
    2. Will  appropriate “social” lounge space be made available in the interim for members to socialize this fall?
    3. For daytime members, the ability to have coffee/tea postgame is key. Will this need be accommodated this fall and any future transitional year(s)?

While Phase 1 is focused on the ice quality and on-ice experience, we understand exactly how important social spaces and lounge space is for our members.  We are committed to working out how we can permanently (and temporarily) fulfil this need.  While Phase 1 does not include the development of lounge space, we will be working with the RACC to identify opportunities to gather and socialize this season.  We will also review the potential to re-introduce coffee/tea – please keep in mind this is very dependent on the Ontario COVID-19 restrictions, food safety regulations and the re-opening of Food & Beverage services.

 

  1. Similarly, key to achieving the social dimension and retaining evening members is access to a bar (food and beverage). Will this service be available this fall and any other transitional year?

Food services at the RA are the last to come back on-line.  We have not yet opened any of our food amenities.  We are looking forward to being able to provide our members, guests, staff and volunteers with some form of food and beverage services as early as this fall.

 

  1. Will the RACC have the amenities including a temporary lounge space and food services (when required) to be able to hold or host city and regional bonspiels during this coming season?

The RACC will work in concert with the RA Club Management team to explore all of these requests.  Providing Ontario COVID-19 restrictions allow for these types of activities and services, we will do our best to offer them(working with the RA Events & Conferences department).

 

  1. Is there a vision for the final arena and associated lounge and other facilities? Do you have, and can you share, design drawings?

Currently, the Curling Centre of Excellence (CCE) Strategic Advisory Committee (which includes RACC representation) is working through these types of details.  Renderings will be available soon with a view to the multiple phases of the project.

 

  1. Will there be wheelchair access to all amenities in the temporary and permanent facilities, e.g., washrooms, change room, lounge, arena? What are the timeframes for the new amenities?

Yes, we will ensure there are accessibility options for our curling members for this season, and will add to them as the project comes to completion.

 

  1. Will the new rocks still arrive this fall?

Yes! We are currently preparing the old rocks to be switched out with the arrival of our new rocks in September 2021.

 

  1. Will there be coat rooms, change rooms and locker rooms this fall, and will they be secure?

Renovations will be happening to the arena change rooms with access to washroom/change rooms in the arena while work is underway.  Change rooms in the RA Centre will be available this year pending Ontario’s re-opening plan with locker rental opportunities resuming (when permitted).

 

  1. Will there be bulletin boards for posting schedules and scores?

Yes – there will be a space to post schedules and scores.

 

  1. Will members be able to store/lock their curling brooms in the arena area? Will there be access to club brooms, stabilizers and other delivery devices?

Year One of the Curling Centre of Excellence project will focus on the on-ice experience.  Construction will be happening for the wrap-around services which will prevent members from storing personal belongings this year.  We will ensure that club brooms, club stabilizers and other club delivery devices will be available to members in the arena.

 

FEE STRUCTURE/ICE ALLOCATION 

  1. Will the membership fees increase this fall due to costs associated with upgrades or changes required to the arena and other spaces? When will the fees be decided?

At this time the RACC/RA Club Management are completing a fee assessment and hope to provide additional information soon.  Please refer to our “Join the Club” page on the RA website for updated fees.  We anticipate memberships will go on sale in early-August.

 

  1. Will the capital levy be re-instituted this coming season?

Yes – the capital levy was set up with the new rocks as a priority (and with RACC members’ support this purchase was realized – thank you).  You may not recall that the levy was also established to allow the RACC to pay for other necessary capital improvements as they arise.  These improvements would be on the small to medium scale – such as new scoreboards and new cameras and monitors which are also needed in the arena.  Major capital expenditures related to the refurbishment of the arena and change rooms, and the construction of a new lounge would fall under the RA’s broader capital plan for the Curling Centre of Excellence.

 

  1. Will curling start at the same time this fall? Could there be delays? and why?  When will we learn the details?

As of this time the RA and RACC are planning to be on time for early October 2021.  We will keep you informed.

 

  1. If we start curling later this fall, will we close later so that the total length of the season (# of weeks) is unchanged? If the season is shortened, will there be a reduction in fees?

With the move of curling to the former hockey arena, the infrastructure is better able to keep the ice in playing condition longer, allowing the season to be extended if needed with no adjustment to fees required.  There will be shoulder season programming and events planned.  The RA and RACC are optimistic that the curling season will begin this October.

 

  1. Could there be disruptions or changes to the leagues/sections scheduling and ice allocation? Who will be deciding on the allocation and priorities?

The RACC works collaboratively with the RA Club Management team to coordinate all that takes place on the ice.  As part of the RA Curling Centre of Excellence, two new committees have been formed to assist us, including an Advisory Committee which is more strategic in nature and will focus on the actual CCE project including the physical space, and a Program/Operations Committee which includes a number of RACC members and RA Club Management that will get more into the details with ice allocation and section/league scheduling.  It is our goal to ensure that each section/league has the appropriate amount of ice time, and we will try our best to reduce impact and/or change while still supporting overall growth of the Club and space.

 

  1. If this is the only Curling Centre of Excellence in Ontario, is it likely that there will be more provincial bonspiels or training sessions for elite Ontario curlers? If so, how will this impact ice time available to RA Curling members?

It is the RA’s intention to complement the curling options currently available.  There are identified gaps in arena-style curling ice venues.  The RA Curling Centre of Excellence will be attractive to local, provincial and national curling bodies to host various events, and each one of these events will help to fund the continued improvements and upgrades in this multi-year project and continue to develop the sport of curling and curlers from recreational to competitive.  The RACC Executive and RA Management will work closely together in partnership to balance out the needs of everyone involved in all the opportunities.  After all, our vision statement is for the RA to become the “go to” hub in the National Capital Region in pursuit of lifelong sport, recreation and wellness.  Any and all provincial and national event opportunities will be worked through in partnership with the RACC Executive committee with the final goal of expanding the RA’s curling reach within Ottawa, providing excellent programming to the community.

 

  1. Will the RA be continuing and/or increasing ice rentals to other groups during this transition period?

RACC programs and activities remain a priority; however, it is essential to not exclude rental opportunities for they also contribute to the overall financial performance of curling operations and will help to offset curling operational expenses.  Membership and program revenues on their own are not sufficient to cover both operational and capital investments and repairs.  Doing this in a way that creates the least impact on our member’s experience is always our goal.

 

  1. Will there be ice practice times for everyone?

We hope to offer some ice practice times.  Times will be determined as part of typical program/ice scheduling.

 

  1. Has the RA set targets for membership levels in the 2021/22 season and for other rental or new program groups’ ice usage? Will there be marketing initiatives aimed at getting members who did not curl last season to return and to attract new members to the RACC?

Yes, targets have been set for the 2021/2022 season and both the RACC Executive committee and RA Club Management will work together with the goal of achieving (and hopefully exceeding) the membership and financial targets.  Marketing initiatives will be tailored to support new and renewing goals.

 

HEALTH AND SAFETY

  1. Will there still be COVID restrictions this fall?

With the decreasing number of COVID cases and increasing vaccination rates it is our hope that restrictions will continue to ease and we can return to more social play.  We will continue to follow provincial and local health authority regulations and communicate with our members as to what they are through Return-to-Play documents.