Town Council made a decision on Monday evening to deny the Tournament of Champions, a Novice and Atom hockey tournament, with double arena ice time for the weekend of March 20, April 1 and 2 of 2017.
During the week of October 24-28, 2016 the Tournament of Champions organization contacted Jennifer Bickell, Facility Bookings Coordinator for the Town of Sylvan Lake, with a verbal request to book two ice surfaces in the NexSource Centre for March 30 weekend for the Tournament of Champions.
Bickell informed the organizers of the lce Allocation Policy which states the ice would be removed from one surface on the ‘last Sunday in March’, which is March 26,2017. Ms. Bickell also provided the organizer with a Facility Booking Request Form and asked them to complete their request in writing and return the form so that the request could be formally considered.
The Sylvan Lake Lacrosse Association had also requested dry floor time starting on April 3, 2017 to prepare for their upcoming lacrosse season.
The lce Allocation Policy R-002-0044 was developed and adopted to clearly define and communicate how ice will be managed, allocated and distributed when more than one user group is requesting the same ice. According to Town staff, the lce Allocation Policy is somewhat dated in that the Policy refers to the Sylvan Lake Multiplex and the Arena, not the NexSource Centre, however the Policy is on the list to be updated prior to the opening of the NexSource Centre.
The Ice Allocation Policy states public Skating and Town of Sylvan Lake programs get first priority with Special Events, Local Minor Sporting Organizations Local Adult Sporting Organizations / Teams Non-Local Sporting Organizations / Teams Casual Users
During the open microphone portion of Monday night’s regular Meeting of Council, Amy Fonda – President of Sylvan Lake Minor Lacrosse Association said she felt lacrosse in Sylvan Lake has faced a great deal of adversity since their existence in Sylvan Lake, particularly with the failing arena roof in 2014.
“Our constant struggle with this sport is adequate floor time,” said Fonda. “The collapse of the arena in 2014 was the beginning of our struggles as our association was displaced to local gymnasiums. Even though we had a few struggles we maintained a membership of 80 players than year and multiple teams.”
“The following year we were able to use the multiplex again and we were able to raise our registrations by 89% that season and almost all of teams finished in the top three in respective divisions.”
She went on to say the following season was not one they wish to remember after being told two weeks before their season was to start that they weren’t going to be able to use the multiplex surface.
“This resulted in us losing 10% of registrations, 98% of which was the youngest division and the future of our program,” she detailed. “We also incurred an additional $5,300 as we had to book facilities out of our community. We took the flack from our members because of your decision and used a facility in Bentley, which is not set up for lacrosse as the ceiling is too low and there are cracks in the cement.”
“We made do knowing we would have a surface this year. In turn we were told we could book our floors, so we booked in for April 3 as it was the earliest it would be ready and available.”
Councillor Graham Parsons advised that her open microphone speech was perhaps of the best he had ever heard.
“Amy & Kelly are Lacrosse pioneers in Sylvan Lake but they are also a hockey family so they aren’t putting one against another,” said Parsons. “The Tournament of Champions is kind of a private organization, but it’s also not. It’s been here for 20 years and it’s a huge economic generator – every hotel from here to Stettler is usually booked solid when it’s in town.”
In an open letter to Town Council, Chairman for Tournament of Champions, Bobby McKinlay states: “For the last 20 years we have booked the ice for all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the Annual Novice & Atom Tournament of Champions when we can in your facility. The 3 other arenas involved are Lacombe, Ponoka and Innisfail.”
He adds, “We choose the weekend right after provincials which is usually the last weekend in March and has at times went into the first couple of days of April. It is our understanding that you are planning on shutting your arena down the weekend before but we are asking you to stay open for this event.” Town Council voted unanimously in favour of the Lacrosse Association.
Councillor Jas Payne stated ultimately Council’s goal needs to be to support the community.
“I just want to say clearly, I don’t think we should ever be displacing our community groups – I think that’s a slippery slope,” added Payne.