User groups may have to face off for ice time

A RECENT COUNCIL decision that requires all city-owned arenas to submit their ice allocation plans to the city may cause user groups to have to face off for private ice time.

The issue was brought to the attention of city council by the Leaside Girls Hockey Association who had threatened to take the city to the human rights commission if fair ice time was not addressed, and after much debate, council approved the motion on Dec. 4.

Ron Baker, president of the Leaside Girls Hockey Association, is happy with the decision.

“I think it goes a really long way,” Baker said. “The first step is to gather all of the various information from all of the various user groups.”
“You can’t make good decisions without good information,” he added.

Baker said the decision means looking at ice allocation across 48 user groups and deciding if all user groups are getting fair consideration.

“So if you’re doing that, that’s all we’ve been asking for,” Baker said.
He said the frustration is derived from the fact that they allow him to present his request, he shows them his numbers, and he is still denied adequate ice time.

At Forest Hill arena he said they were shut out for many years and described a similar situation at Ted Reeve arena, but noted Leaside Gardens Arena had a fair ice-allocation policy.

Brenda Patterson, general manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, said the city should review the arenas’ ice times by March.
But Derek Woods, president of the Leaside Hockey Association, said he is afraid by the time parks and recreation okay the ice allocation plans, he is going to be behind in securing private ice time from other rinks, which he said his association uses for 70 per cent of its ice time.

“If the girls end up getting access to ice they didn’t have the other programs are going to end up being reduced or displaced to some other facility,” Woods said.

He said his association is usually told by March 1 by the Leaside board of management what ice times are available, but this year he is unsure when he will know.

“The boards have been asked not to confirm their ice time with their users until the city has had a chance to review,” Coun. Karen Stintz said. “But the city is notoriously delayed for confirming ice time.”
Woods added arenas could raise their prices if they choose.

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