Hockey Hub in Kincardine: A municipal innovation story

In less than eight months, more than 42 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered to Canadians. 68.4% have received their first dose, which is higher than any other country in the world, and 43% of Canadians are fully vaccinated—a number that is climbing rapidly.


It is truly remarkable what has been accomplished.


Hockey Hub model

The distribution channels available to health professionals to administer vaccines have evolved over the last year. Communities in Bruce and Grey County were leaders in solving the complex logistical challenges of acquiring and distributing vaccines in a timely and efficient way that reduced barriers to access for rural Ontarians.

Davidson Centre vaccine clinic (Credit: Kincardine Record)

Dubbed “Hockey Hubs,” several community spaces including arenas and gyms have served a critical role in the fight against the virus in the region, and the model has been replicated across Canada.


The Davidson Centre in Kincardine is where community members often gather. When not living through a pandemic, it is a hive for recreational activity and a critical space for building a healthy and connected community. During a pandemic, this space has proven more important to community wellbeing than ever, and has served residents from across Bruce, Grey, and Huron Counties in the fight against Covid-19.


Hockey Hub in the Municipality of Kincardine

Under Medical Officer of Health Dr. Arra’s leadership, the Grey-Bruce Health Unit convened partners to develop the Hockey Hub model as a way of solving storage, distribution, and safety challenges.


Bruce Power was an early and eager partner, providing critical equipment and personnel to quickly realize the Hockey Hub model. Chapman’s Ice Cream provided expertise in refrigeration to ensure that vaccines were stored at safe temperatures. Municipal staff led the conversion of the Davidson Centre, in turn providing space for tens of thousands of people to be vaccinated.


I had the opportunity to connect with Frank Tourloukis, Interim Facility Supervisor and Shane Watson, Fire Prevention Officer and Acting CEMC from the Municipality of Kincardine who provided leadership in coordinating the conversion of the Davidson Centre into a Hockey Hub.


Tourloukis is principally responsible for the ongoing operational management of the Davidson Centre. He reflected on how having great colleagues and strong collaborators such as Bruce Power made those early days of the pandemic and the conversion of the Davidson Centre go so much smoother.

“There were a lot of things that we needed to learn on the fly,” said Tourloukis. “Having a great team with a level of emergency expertise allowed for the effective transition from a community centre to a recovery centre, and eventually to a vaccination centre”.

Shane Watson quickly pivoted from primarily focusing on Fire Prevention Officer to Community Emergency Management Coordinator (CEMC). He led Kincardine’s municipal team in the conversion of the Davidson Centre after a request came to staff and Council from the Grey-Bruce Public Health Unit to help alleviate pressures on the health care sector.

“I can’t stress enough that this was 100% a team effort. Strengths and expertise from many areas worked together to accomplish the set-up of the recovery centre in Kincardine…Frank Tourkloukis, Bruce Power, the Grey Bruce Public Health Unit, and many municipal staff and local businesses were critical to our success”.

Watson highlighted that there was a lot of energy behind the initiative given the strength of the community and the desire to do whatever could be collectively done to stave off the worst of the pandemic. “There were a lot of late nights and many hours put in but again, the end goal was to serve the community as best we could, and I think we accomplished our goal”.


I asked Frank and Shane why they thought that the Hockey Hub model was worth talking about. They shared four reasons that I think are instructive to our future as we solve complex problems through innovative solutions.

  1. First, Dr. Arra’s design fundamentally changed the capabilities of health professionals to administer doses to large segments of the population in a compressed time frame.

  2. Second, the conversion of the Davidson Centre tested and helped refine emergency preparedness and procedures that will serve future community needs. Furthermore, Frank and Shane’s teams shared their learning early and often with leaders from across the province which helped others fast-track local solutions to mitigate community risk during the pandemic.

  3. Third, the work of the last year and a half in Kincardine has highlighted how critical clear and coherent communication is when coordinating volunteers, staff, community supports, and large groups being vaccinated.

  4. Lastly, the Hockey Hub model demonstrated that when there are shared objectives and values, people can collaborate in meaningful ways that alter the future in transformative ways. “Absolutely everyone in Kincardine should be proud to be a part of something that was life changing for many people” said Watson. “This situation could’ve gone very differently had we not had multiple people from multiple fields putting their best foot forward in order to figure out a solution to our problem.”

An innovative vaccination clinic design (Credit: Grey-Bruce Public Health)

“So many different teams were brought together so quickly and so effectively with the common goal of serving the community,” said Tourloukis.


And there were many, many partners. “From Public Health who coordinated all the macro aspects, to private businesses like Canadian Tire, Pollock Electric, Current Electric (among others), to Bruce Power, to the many departments within the Municipality of Kincardine like Public Works and the Fire Department. Staff leaders such as our CAO Sharon Chambers and Director Karen Kieffer, the continued support of our Mayor and Council, the Davidson maintenance staff, many individuals in the community who volunteer their time to staff the vaccination center, and groups like the Rotary, the Lions and Huron Area Search and Rescue (HASAR) volunteering to the essential parking staffing.”


Frank and Shane’s reflections resonated deeply with me.

Their work is clearly connected to who they are personally and professionally, and the time and energy that they have given to improve conditions in the face of such uncertain times is worth lauding.

They remind me often that it was truly a team effort, and they are right to point to a very long list of partners including those community members who selflessly cancelled plans for recreation so that the Centre could serve the region in a time of need. But leadership matters, and it is okay to recognize the impact that their work has had on thousands of people.


Hockey Hub and the Ten Types of Innovation

The Hockey Hub is a good example of an innovation that integrates multiple “types of innovation” (see my earlier blog post here) requiring the public and private sector to design and implement the solution.


The best innovations integrate multiple types of innovation, and ideally in two or more categories as described in my previous blog post. The Hockey Hub model is a combination of Process, Network, and Service innovation.

  • Process: In the Hockey Hub model, the vaccine comes to you. When a patient arrives at the Davidson Centre, they are registered and then seated. A medical professional comes to each patient, administers the vaccine, and remains in place for the wait period following the dose. Staff can move through the facility easily, ventilation and refrigeration systems are optimal, and a high volume of patients can be moved through the process efficiently. This innovation is a novel way of flipping the orthodoxy that you must go to the vaccine and that you need to come in contact with multiple parties in different spaces along the way.

  • Network: The Hockey Hub model required multiple partners from different sectors to collaborate. The Municipality of Kincardine permitted the conversion and use of the Davidson Centre’s arena. Grey-Bruce Health provided leadership around the design and implementation of the process. Industry partners including Bruce Power and Chapman’s Ice Cream provided subject expertise, resources, and personnel to expediate the realization of the model. The network innovation seen here draws on the unique assets that each partner can bring to solve the problem.

  • Service: Many of my friends and family have been vaccinated in a Hockey Hub. Every one of them talks about how fast and efficient the model is. Reduced wait times, anxiety, and confusion at the place of vaccination lead to greater patient satisfaction and a better overall experience. This service innovation is patient-centered and the positive experience that community members speak of encourages higher rates of vaccination in the region.

Thanking the Municipality of Kincardine

Municipal staff in the Municipality of Kincardine were critical players in making the Hockey Hub model possible. Their resolve to provide the region with a safe, reliable space to administer vaccinations has had a direct and positive impact on the wellbeing of our communities.


Thank you to Frank Tourloukis, Shane Watson, and all the staff and volunteers who have helped the community live more hopeful and healthy lives.


What’s next?

I am excited to continue to share stories of municipal innovators throughout the MIC’s membership. There are plenty of examples to draw from. Through the exploration of each use case, my hope is that we can better calibrate what innovation is, how frequently municipalities engage in innovative work, and that there is a model (Ten Types of Innovation) that can inspire further innovation across the region.


Read more about the Made-in-Canada Hockey Hub model on CBC.ca and TVO.org.

Dave Shorey is the Innovation Officer at the Municipal Innovation Council.