Dysart et al’s decision to allot summer evening ice at A.J. LaRue Arena to Haliburton Hockey Haven is upsetting other local programs who have historically booked that ice-time.
The decision came at the Sept. 24 council meeting, when Dysart et al council voted to authorize the mayor and clerk to execute an agreement with Hockey Haven to give them exclusive weekday rights for 2019 summer ice at A.J. LaRue Arena. The agreement extended Hockey Haven’s allotted ice-time to include both daytime and evenings.
Monica Keefer said she has been running a power-skating program at A.J. LaRue Arena on Monday nights in the summer for the past eight years. It serves about 45 kids every year across three age brackets, with a waiting list.
But her usual ice-time from 6:30-9:30 p.m. has now largely been allotted to Hockey Haven.
“I know they are a business and they have their own programs to run, but my feeling and frustration is, at what cost to the rest of us?” Keefer said. “Nobody ever did the homework to ask the rest of us that use this if this was going to be detrimental.”
In an emailed statement, Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts said the contract extension was seen as a positive move and that Hockey Haven has invested in the community.
“Council did not discuss the impact to other programs and I personally was not aware it would negatively affect anyone,” she said. “The contract was seen as a good business decision and was not intended to upset or alienate anyone.”
The new agreement booked Hockey Haven for ice at A.J. La Rue Arena from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through the first seven weeks between July 1 and Labour Day. For the last two weeks of that period, Hockey Haven is booked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hockey Haven expanding its summer ice booking is expected to increase municipal revenue from ice rentals by approximately $25,000.
Keefer said she was never contacted about Hockey Haven taking on her usual ice time and did not become aware until trying to book ice in December. She added there are other local programs facing a similar situation.
Roberts said the contract allows for subletting of ice time for Hockey Haven at the same rate they pay the municipality. However, that subletting is kept optional.
Roberts also said Hockey Haven is proposing a solution to the municipality and something on the matter will be presented at the Feb. 26 regular council meeting.
Hockey Haven Owner Troy Binnie said he sought the extra ice-time due to the continued growth of Hockey Haven programming.
He said he could not offer details on what he is proposing until he works it out with the municipality. But he added this year he “100 per cent” expects to be able to accommodate groups who have been regularly using summer evening ice at A.J. LaRue Arena.
However, he said years beyond summer 2019 were not something he could yet discuss.
“I’m not going to comment on that part until I finalize my talks with the township on this,” he said. “I’m trying to be the nice guy.”
Binnie said Hockey Haven wants to support the community.
“We’re here for the community. We’re here to help,” he said.
Keefer said she understands Hockey Haven does good in the community, but that does not counter the negative feelings about her previous ice time getting booked up.
“I just feel like we’re being pushed aside,” she said.