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No way to keep all ice users happy, city rec director says.

Brockville Recorder & Times
By RONALD ZAJAC - Staff Writer

There isn't enough prime ice time in the city's two arenas to accommodate the requests of all user groups, Brockville's parks and recreation director said Tuesday.

David Morgan made the remarks in response to a question by Councillor Jason Baker before city councillors backed new ice allocation guidelines at its regular meeting.

Those guidelines will allocate prime time ice at the Memorial Centre and Centennial Youth Arena using a percentage system based on the number of each user group's members.

Still, the city won't be able to accommodate all the requests, said Morgan, noting one large user group, which he did not name, wants 700 hours of ice time for the entire fall-winter season.

Along with the percentage system, the new policy, which has the backing of the arena advisory committee, also requires youth groups to be non-profit and have at least three-quarters of their members under age 18, and more than half of them from Brockville, to qualify for the lower, city-subsidized youth rate.

Morgan also said last week the city is looking at allowing groups a 30-day notice period if they want to cancel ice time.

In interviews with The Recorder and Times on the weekend, Brockville Minor Hockey Association president Scott Evans and St. Lawrence Speed Skating Club president John Somerville both described the system as fair.

But Baker was skeptical, saying the true test of the policy will be in the actual allocation.
The people who are on side with the new system now will quickly jump off if they do not get the ice they think they are getting, said Baker. He also had his doubts about the 30-day grace period for cancellations.

Without a strong "penalty clause," large users, such as the BMHA, will book more ice than they need and cancel it later, leaving periods of unused ice, said Baker.

The councillor acknowledged the BMHA has done a good job of improving its practices.
However, the city has been "too soft" in allocating prime time ice, said Baker, citing the example of an adult group that uses the Memorial Centre on Wednesday nights before Tikis games.

That time is perfect for youth groups and adults should be required to play after the Tikis are done, argued Baker.

The guidelines state that "long-standing organizations," such as adult leagues, that have used prime time ice will continue to get that ice, but the policy adds "these prime time allotments will not increase to the detriment of youth programming."

Adult groups pay the top rate, countered Mayor David Henderson, who warned against pulling a long-standing adult user from a sure time slot when a youth group may only use it temporarily.

Councillors agreed with Morgan's recommendation to give the new policy a chance to work and keep an eye on it.