The Fernie Memorial Arena has been closed for nearly three months. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Sask. residents help B.C. town get back on the ice after arena disaster

Residents of Wilkie, Sask., are voting for Fernie in the Kraft Hockeyville competition

Towns across Canada are voting for the community they think deserves $250,000 in upgrades to a local ice rink, as a part of the Kraft Hockeyville competition.

Look back: Locals nominating Fernie Memorial Arena to win $250,000 in upgrades

Despite being nearly 600 kilometres away, some people living in the town of Wilkie, Sask., say instead of voting for their own town, they will vote for Fernie instead.

The Fernie Memorial Arena has been closed for nearly three months.

“Fernie, B.C. has a tragic story,” read a post from a Wilkie, Sask., Facebook page on Jan. 9. “Three of the rink workers were killed from a ammonia leak in their rink. Their hockey teams now are using local rinks to play in, and Memorial Arena in Fernie, B.C. remains empty and not usable.”

“Wilkie, Sask and area, round up the troops!” it continued. “We’ve suffered a loss and been displaced before, now it’s our turn to help them skate on their home ice again!”

In 2015, a fire almost destroyed Wilkie’s community centre. It took them two long years to rebuild, and according to locals, this process was not easy.

This past summer, they were able to step back into their community centre for the first time.

“Our hockey teams and curlers and back doing what they love… it’s a tremendous feeling!” says Kathy Heilman, a Wilkie resident who helped rally support for Fernie, in a Facebook message to the Free Press.

This post received much support and thanks from residents in the Elk Valley.

“Can’t thank you enough,” read a response.

So far, the Fernie rink has garnered 58 stories, 80 notes and 48 pictures on the contest website.

To cast your vote, visit Kraftvillehockey.ca

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