The Comox Valley Recreation Commission is considering changes to its Ice Use Allocation Policy to better reflect the needs of the community.
At its March 9 meting, the commission considered a number of key items outlined by staff, such as increasing the priority and ice times for youth non-profits. In the case of youth ringette, for example, the district would look to balance ice use, as it does for minor hockey and figure skating.
“In past years, youth ringette has not had what I would call a consistent ice time that they can then plan for their season,” said Jennifer Zbinden, senior manager of recreation services. “It’s been when we have spare ice. In order for them to be able to grow a program, that opportunity hasn’t been there.”
Comox director Ken Grant is concerned about “opening a can of worms,” considering someone will be dislodged each time an ice slot is moved.
“How are you going to implement this? I can see this getting really contentious,” he said.
Zbinden said staff are continuing to work on the process.
“I think the very first step that needs to happen is communication and engagement with all of our ice users to understand what the implications will mean,” she said. “Is there a team out there maybe that’s folding that’s going to offer their ice up front?”
The district is also considering options for an adult evening hockey league, in partnership with 19-Wing Comox, which could provide space for those who might be reallocated.
From Grant’s experience, an adult hockey program starts out as a nice thing but then becomes overly competitive, especially with the younger players.
“It becomes very specific as to who wants to go to it,” Grant said. “I think it’s a lot harder issue than it appears on the surface.”
Commission chair Daniel Arbour noted the district has an appeal process for ice times.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction here,” Courtenay director Wendy Morin said. “I think it’s a more equitable system we’re proposing.”
The commission approved recommending to the CVRD board a policy to focus on youth and community needs, as opposed to past practices of acknowledging historical use of ice.