OTTAWA -- The RA Centre says it will no longer offer ice hockey, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and an overall decline in participation numbers nationwide.

In an email, the sports facility on Riverside Drive called the decision “heart-wrenching.”

"We are truly saddened to inform our RA Hockey community that COVID-19 has delivered a thunderous body-check, putting RA Hockey into retirement," said the RA Centre.

"As the RA looks to rebound from the harsh impacts of the pandemic, we must make some difficult, heart-wrenching decisions. As every sport franchise facing a rebuild knows, this is extremely painful and often unfortunate but necessary for the long-term success of the organization."

The RA Centre has offered ice hockey for more than 80 years.

However, the not-for-profit organization says COVID-19 has forced a reassessment and rethinking of every part of the operation, adding it hasn't been able to fully open for extended periods during the pandemic.

"Recovery will be challenging. The RA is an aging facility with most areas requiring large capital investment and experiencing increasing operational costs," the email said.

"There also remains the very real possibility of continued public health restrictions in some program areas and the uncertainty around participants’ comfort levels in returning to activities where contact is unavoidable."

The RA Centre says as it looks to the future, it must invest in activities that support the RA's mission but can be enjoyed safely and easily by a wide variety of ages.

"Sadly, hockey is not only a costly enterprise, but was and continues to be on a decline in overall participation numbers, both at the RA and nationally.”