During the August 4 council session, Councillor Mario Zanth asked to have one item listed for future discussion at a committee of the whole meeting put on the table right away. The subject was the Canadian International Hockey Academy’s (CIHA) increase in the ice rates it charges at the Clarence-Rockland Arena.
“Council understands the frustration,” Zanth said, noting concerns he has heard from parents about the potential impact on youth hockey.
The CIHA announced earlier in the year that the ice rate at the Clarence-Rockland Arena would increase to $340 an hour. Zanth proposed that council approve a temporary increase in the municipal subside for ice time rates for minor sports to a maximum of $190.29 an hour.
“This is to ensure that minor ice sports are not penalized,” Zanth said, adding that the subsidy increase could apply to “all non-profit organizations” like the figure skating clubs, which provide winter ice sports.
The rest of council supported the intent of Zanth’s resolution but there was lengthy discussion on how broad a definition to use to determine the amateur sports groups that would qualify for the increased subsidy. Zanth said the funds should go “to whoever needs it the most.”
Community Services Director Jean-Luc Jubinville told council that youth winter sports group that could benefit from the ice rates subsidy could include all minor hockey clubs, from mites and Atoms to bantams and the Lightning girls hockey club. He noted that regional youth hockey clubs like the Wild, the Crush, and the Cobras, which include Clarence-Rockland players on their rosters, could also benefit when they have games or practices scheduled in the area. Ringette and figure skating clubs could also benefit.
Concern was raised that the CIHA ice rate hike could affect the Rockland Nationals. Most junior A hockey clubs do not make much, if any, profit, but they serve as a key starting point for young hockey players who seek a chance to try out for the bigger leagues, including the NHL.
Council approved a final revised resolution to provide an increased ice rate subsidy, up to a maximum of $190.29, to all winter sports organizations that have qualified in the past for subsidy help for ice time at the Clarence-Rockland Arena.