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Can't get ice time you like? Here's how Port Moody would like to fix that

The city is feeling the crunch as demand returns to pre-pandemic levels.
With demand at Port Moody recreational facilities by groups like the city's minor hockey association back to pre-pandemic levels, it's time a framework and policy be implemented to allocate times to user groups, says Jim LaCroix, Port Moody’s manager of recreation services.

Too many user groups and not enough ice in Port Moody is causing the city to consider re-examining how it allocates time at its recreational facilities.

In a report that was presented to council on Tuesday (Feb. 14), Port Moody’s manager of recreation services, Jim LaCroix, proposes the city budget for the creation of a framework and policy to guide the distribution of access to the two arenas at the recreation complex, as well as other recreational facilities.

LaCroix said the squeeze first became apparent when COVID-19 public health restrictions eased and sporting activities started returning to normal.

He said that resulted in a request last spring for more ice time from the Tri-City Female Ice Hockey Association (TCFIHA) and Coquitlam/Moody Ringette.

The city also received inquiries from the cities of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam whether Port Moody could accommodate more time for the female hockey group.

But an effort to carve that additional time by rescheduling some of the ice times used by the Port Moody Oldtimers Hockey Association (PMOHA) was met with resistance.

Several PMOHA members told councillors during a meeting last July that the group relies on the consistency of its Thursday evening ice times so they can fulfill their other community and volunteer coaching endeavours.

Those times were entrenched in an agreement reached with the city in 2007 for which PMOHA pays the full rate for its ice time without subsidies often granted to youth leagues.

Robert Chorner said being able to play games at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays rather than being pushed to the late night hours — as often occurs in other communities facing pressure to accommodate youth leagues — is part of the league’s strength that brings members together to help raise money for community groups like the Crossroads Hospice Society.

Another player said moving the oldtimers’ time slot could cost the group up to a third of its 192 members.

“There is no way I can justify getting off the ice at 1 a.m.,” said one player.

“I would have to bow out of this and go play elsewhere”

As a result of their admonitions, council granted PMOHA an exemption from the annual allocation process similar to its accommodation of the Port Moody Panthers junior hockey team, and some time on Sunday mornings was recovered from the Port Moody Amateur Hockey Association to accommodate TCFIHA.

But the crunch hasn’t eased, said LaCroix.

While the city does have a policy guiding ice allocation, it receives more requests for times than it has available for many of its facilities, and formulating a policy that can be applied to all would help ease the strain and minimize conflicts.

“Such a framework and policy will address the allocation gaps, review best practices and consider evolving user group needs within the community,” LaCroix said in his report, adding such a process will also provide the city tools to address issues like storage space, risk and liability.