The world’s largest hockey stick survived Expo ‘86, a move to Vancouver Island, the wrath of Canadian winters and even woodpeckers, but time is catching up with the monument to Canada’s game attached to an ice arena in Duncan, B.C.
The 28,118-kilogram stick was built to mark the entrance to the Canada pavilion at Vancouver’s Expo in 1986, but 37 years later the Cowichan Valley Regional District said it is coming to “the end of its life.”
The regional district has launched a survey asking residents to help decide the stick’s fate.
The 62.5 metre-long steel and Douglas fir stick, along with a puck, was shipped to Duncan in 1988 after the community beat out several other communities and private investors to gain ownership.
It was officially recognized as the world’s largest hockey stick by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008.
Kris Schumacher, a spokesman for the regional district, said the stick had several upgrades in the early 2000s, but its latest problems set off the survey.
“It’s just gone through some recent trouble with a woodpecker that we had to deal with that was putting some holes into it,” he said.
“There’s been some fun, creative kind of problem-solving that’s happened I believe with it over its time here, especially in recent years with nature wanting to do its thing.”
The regional district estimated in a report before city council that it would cost between $1.5 million and $3 million to build and install a replacement stick.
If that proposal is rejected by residents, then the stick will be torn down at the end of its expected life in three years or before then, if it poses a safety hazard.
The price tag compared to the sentimentality of replacing it is something the district is aware of, Schumacher said, adding that it was important to hear the community’s views.
“When it comes down to it, it’s something that’s nice to have and trying to understand that sentiment and that you know that the legacy and what that means to people in the community,” he said.
“Especially when you’re talking about millions of dollars to keep it versus understanding that maybe that money could possibly be used in other places.”
Taxes for residents in the regional district were increased 11.49 per cent from 2022 and the cost of replacing the stick would be at taxpayers’ expense.
“I think there’s a heightened sensitivity to spending money on things that aren’t core services as far as what your local or regional government provides,” Schumacher said.
Meanwhile, the stick’s record faces a threat that comes for all hockey record holders: a younger rival.
The city of Lockport, Ill., approved a proposal in January for a new fitness and hockey facility that would feature a stick larger than its Canadian counterpart.
The new stick would be 76 metres, roughly 13.5 metres longer than the Canadian version.
The proposed end of the stick has generated significant interest in the community, Schumacher said, with 500 survey responses completed in less than 24 hours of its launch.
The survey will run to the end of the summer and is available both online and in paper form at regional district locations.