Fort McPherson boy presents letter to council with three pages of signatures

Nine-year-old Zandar Koe asked council to consider opening the currently closed arena for New Year's

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A young man in Fort McPherson got a taste of how government works as he presented a letter to hamlet council Nov. 6.

Zandar Koe, 9, was hoping to play hockey in the arena during New Year’s, as per tradition. Normally, the arena is opened by December to let the kids play. However, the arena was closed over the summer as part of the construction of the new community hall.

“They closed it this summer, so I wanted to see if they would open it on New Year’s,” he said.

So he wrote the letter, requesting that council find a way to do just that. As news of the letter spread around town, peers and adults offered their support for his cause and signed the letter. By the time the letter reached the council, it had three pages’ worth of signatures.

Koe said he was nervous to appear before council but was glad he did it. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, the arena can’t be opened until construction is finished, but Koe did manage to secure a promise to keep the outdoor pond in skate-able condition.

“They listened, but it’s shut down for the season,” he said. “But it was good to get my concerns out.

“But we’ll play hockey on the pond and they’ll maintain it. Thank you to the mayor and council for listening.”

The pond, called Intake Lake and located near the highway, is the historical go-to for spontaneous hockey games. With council planning to maintain it, the kids should have a spot to practise their craft all winter long.

Construction of a new community hall in Fort McPherson was initiated after the federal government earmarked money for a number of infrastructure projects in 2017. This last summer, the old community hall was demolished to make way for the new one. The complex, which will include the arena, is expected to open its doors in 2021.

Mayor William Koe said the hall needed to be shut down immediately after it was found melting permafrost was forcing concrete foundations up through the floor. He said council and a group of parents had worked together to make the ice pond-worthy.

“The ice has been cleaned and they’re playing hockey now,” he said. “We’re going to start helping with flooding the rink and having a place for them to change into their skates.

“The ice is really smooth. It might be nice to have a tournament or something on the open ice.”

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