Merge vote this week

The marriage of two historic rivals may or may not take place this week but whatever the result, it will be a deciding factor in the future of local minor hockey.

The Rossland-Trail Minor Hockey Association (RTMHA) and Beaver Valley Minor Hockey Association (BVMHA) will vote on whether to  merge this season or continue as separate entities.

The RTMHA will fill their ballots tonight but unlike the BVMHA that vote Thursday, the Trail ballot is open to all residents.

“As long as you live in Rossland, Warfield, Trail anywhere in our B.C. hockey boundary, you can pay your two bucks at the AGM and vote,” said RTMHA president Shawn Brandt.

The BVMHA constitution is different in that it only allows area residents whose son or daughter play minor hockey or are a coach, organizer or association member to vote.

If the amalgamation goes forward, the two associations will combine reducing costs and red tape while increasing participation.

Brandt also points to bylaw 60 of the constitution that ensures younger players will stay and play in their respective communities.

“If you’re from Beaver Valley or Trail we want you to play in that area from novice all the way up to pee wee but where numbers don’t give you that benefit, we’ll integrate them to have optimal team sizes,” he explained.

In both leagues numbers have been a problem particularly in Beaver Valley.

“Beaver Valley had an increasingly difficult time forming carded teams,” said BVMHA president Kirby Epp.

However, attempts for players to join rep teams in Trail were rejected due to affiliation obstacles.

According to proponents, amalgamation will enhance competition and provide older players an opportunity to continue playing.

It would also enable each level from novice to midget the opportunity to play rep hockey on either a Tier 2, Tier 3 or a house  team.

But how it affects parents, players, volunteers and businesses remains to be seen, says Epp.

“The merger proposal looks very good on paper, but what scares me is that hockey is played on ice, not paper.”

The long skate towards amalgamation began in 2009 and entailed an intensive information campaign.

The RTMHA vote will be tonight at 7 p.m. in the McIntyre Room at Cominco Arena.

The BVMHA meeting goes Thursday in the Fruitvale Hall at 7 p.m. The results will be released on Friday.