Climate emergency cancels World Pond Hockey Championship, impacts other seasonal Canadian events

The annual World Pond Hockey Championship in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, seen in this file photo from a year when the ice was thick enough, attracts teams predominantly from North America, but also some from around the world.The annual World Pond Hockey Championship in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, seen in this file photo from a year when the ice was thick enough, attracts teams predominantly from North America, but also some from around the world. (Photo: Allison Devereaux/CBC)

Warm winter temperatures led to pond ice too thin to safely hold the annual international games, and wildfire forecasts are leading to the cancellation and rescheduling of summer events.

Playing outdoor ice hockey is a blast, and the joy is not exclusive to Canadians. But in a country where hockey is more than just a game, imagine the utter sadness of canceling the World Pond Hockey Championship, usually held each February in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick.

“December 28th, we actually had people here in town golfing, which doesn’t happen,” Danny Braun, co-founder and organizer of the event, told the CBC.

Adding insult to injury, the sparse snowpack and ongoing drought in Western Canada are raising expectations for another devastating wildfire season in British Columbia, prompting organizers to cancel the annual Fort St. John International Air Show, usually held each August.

Related: Unrelenting wildfires, torrential rainfall bring new meaning to “unprecedented” extreme weather events

“When the wildfire season is in full swing, there’s a lot of air traffic at our airport,” Sandi Miller, producer of the air show, said in an interview with CBC’s Daybreak North program. “So a lot of helicopters, a lot of airplanes, water bombers to smoke jumpers [will be] going in and out of our airports. So [having an airshow] would be interfering with that,” she added.

Below-normal snowpack raises concern for summer wildfires

Snow levels across British Columbia are 39 percent below normal, according to the B.C. River Forecast Centre, and unless conditions change before the spring melt, conditions will be ripe for another devastating wildfire season this summer.

The Kamloopa Powwow, one of Western Canada’s largest gatherings celebrating the heritage of the province’s Secwepemc people, rescheduled its annual three-day celebration from August to July 28 to 30. The reason? To avoid extreme heat and potential wildfire smoke, Melissa Mathias, treasurer and sponsorship coordinator for the Kamloopa Powwow Society, wrote in an email to CBC.

Related: But summer is supposed to be hot

And the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society also is rescheduling its annual event — usually held in August — to July 26 to 28, due to the same concern about extreme heat and wildfire smoke. In 2023 the event was canceled after the first night due to wildfire smoke and province-wide travel restrictions.

And this year the society plans to increase shade and the number of water stations across the festival grounds, Althea Mongerson, the society’s marketing coordinator, told the CBC.