It’s actually too late for Saskatchewan’s ice rink operators to apply for the funding outlined in the 2021-22 provincial budget earlier this week. The $1.7-million program, providing grants of up to $2,500 to offset operating costs, minor capital upgrades or extra expenditures to meet public health protocol, has been fully allocated after accepting applications from mid-December until mid-March. However, both grant recipients and unsuccessful aspirants could enjoy a discount on their electricity bills this spring and summer through a newly announced SaskPower rate relief program.
The provincial utility estimates eligible non-profit customers will realize savings in the range of $1,600 or $330 per month, depending on whether ice surfaces are operational, over the six-month period from March 1 to September 1. That rate relief will come with the waiving of the electricity demand charge, which commercial and institutional customers pay for SaskPower to have generating capacity in reserve to meet their peak demand requirements.
“Ice rinks are at the heart of many Saskatchewan communities, but many have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in the federally imposed carbon tax,” asserts Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskPower. “This program aims to help these community rinks weather the storm.”
Like the previously announced grant program, the electricity rate relief is meant for indoor skating or curling rinks owned by a local municipality or First Nations community. The Saskatchewan budget document reports that more than 600 such facilities in more than 350 villages, towns and cities received funds through the community rink affordability grant program, which was the fulfillment of a provincial election campaign promise.