The BVMHA saw 111 members hit the polls on Tuesday at a general meeting at the Fruitvale Elementary School to vote on whether they were for or against joining forces with the RTMHA and creating a Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association.
On Thursday, the votes were counted at the law office of McEwan, Harrison and Co. and the result was a resounding yes from BVMHA members – it just wasn’t loud enough.
Seventy-nine members voted for amalgamation and 32 against, but according to the Society’s Act, the 71 per cent in favour did not meet the 75-per-cent required to unite.
While the vote failed, the numbers were up significantly from the 61 per cent that voted in favour of it in BVMHA’s last referendum in May.
“It think it’s a positive,” said BVMHA vice-president Dara Waterstreet. “I don’t know what is right for Beaver Valley minor hockey, I know what we’re doing now isn’t working. I think we need to continue to look for a solution, and I hope we all continue to work together to either find something that will make things better for next year and the years to come or take advantage of the offer we’ve been given.”
Waterstreet, a BVMHA executive for the past five years, has seen the problems mount.
Fluctuating minor hockey numbers with low enrollment in some divisions make it difficult to assemble even one house and/or rep team.
Declaring “No Team in Category” also does not guarantee other minor hockey organizations will accept players from Beaver Valley.
Many neighbouring associations’ rep teams won’t accept players because it skews their numbers. Having to account for the BVMHA enrollment from Pee Wee up, forces the association into another category, such as jumping from Tier 3 to Tier 2, explained Waterstreet.
“We can make things work but its just band-aiding solutions, bringing kids up divisions, taking kids down divisions and I don’t think that’s fair to kids. We just want a place where kids can play, it’s not about skill level, it’s not about house and rep, it’s about where they can play and what makes them most happy in the sport.”
Detractors say the biggest concerns for amalgamation include transportation costs, declining arena usage, and loss of a unique Beaver Valley identity.
However, proponents argue that Bylaw 60 will keep young skaters in the Valley at least until Pee Wee. After that, games will be shared equally between the three Greater Trail arenas. And if enough kids enrol, teams will be comprised mostly of local kids, wherever they live.
Derek Steep, a Grade 12 student and midget rep player, has ridden the roller coaster of playing rep hockey in Trail one year, then denied a tryout the next and forced to play house league in Beaver Valley.
On Tuesday he made an impassioned plea to parents at the meeting, to ask their kids what they wanted. Steep was certain they would say, “amalgamate.”
In the last merger vote in May, the RTMHA voted 86 percent in favour of amalgamation; Beaver Valley, 61 percent.
“This area needs to combine for better hockey, for competitive hockey,” said RTMHA president Mark Ballarin. “Unfortunately, numbers are down, so the more you have the stronger you are.”
In the end, most believe a merger would benefit the kids on all levels, added Ballarin.
If the vote is eventually successful, the two associations would fold and emerge with a new constitution under the Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association.
While the majority supports it, the minority wins this vote, and those most affected will invariably be the kids and members of a community polarized by the divisive issue.
A side motion, “to not visit or discuss the topic of amalgamation for at least two years,” was defeated by a vote of 66 to 44.