Politics is making life difficult for local sports.
As the Trail Commercial Hockey League gets set to drop the puck on a new season, the league and its players are feeling the brunt of the recreation agreement impasse between Rossland and Trail.
The venerable league has been in operation since 1956, but this is the first year that Rossland players will be required to pay almost twice the $250 registration fee that Trail players pay to lace them up for the season.
“If you are under 18, a senior, or handicapped they (City of Rossland) will pay the Rec fee, but if you’re an adult (from Rossland) it costs you an extra $242 to play,” said TCHL president Grant Tyson. “A lot of our guys, especially the younger ones, just can’t afford this.”
Rossland withdrew from the Rec agreement in 2009, but it is only since Jan. 1 when the last agreement with Warfield, Beaver Valley, Montrose, and Area ‘A’ expired that it became necessary to actually enforce fees for rentals and use.
Since then, the Villages of Montrose, Warfield, and Beaver Valley have either reached a new agreement or initiated a reimbursement program for their residents, however, the City of Rossland remains without an accord with Greater Trail Recreation and its facilities, and will only reimburse organizations with athletes under 18, seniors, and handicapped individuals according to its rec policy.
Rossland adults looking to play a little hockey or other sport will have to pay.
Recreation director Tricia Davison says the measure has been there since 2009, but with the escalating cost of running facilities as a result of communities not pitching in, the burden is on the City of Trail to recoup some of those costs.
“Many people in the rental world think it’s new, when in actual fact, they should have been charged all this time,” says Davison.
Because the TCHL plays all its games in the Cominco Arena, the City of Trail requires all non-resident users to purchase a Sports Pass, and all teams are required to submit a roster with proof that all players have abided by the regulation and paid the extra fee.
“We cross reference, whether you have sports passes or TRP cards and as long as everybody has it, you get the ice for X rental fee,” says Davison. “If there is a discrepancy, and/or if we get into this headache of people just simply not submitting them, then basically part of your contract this year will say you’re now going to pay a different rate to rent the ice, which will actually double your rental rate.”
For the TCHL, the extra cost could mean losing the equivalent of a full team as 15 players will likely pull out, leaving the league with just four teams, said Tyson.
“Re/Max, we have six guys, and they are already saying they can’t afford to pay that much, so that will make our team fold, and there’s not enough guys in the draft to fill all those slots with what we lost.”
The ramifications of this will ultimately extend to other adult sports, from beer-league hockey to pickleball.
Enforcing the extra fees will create a lot of disgruntled athletes, affecting the TCHL as well as many other leagues and associations in Greater Trail.
“It’s suppose to be a sports town, but we can’t even get our hockey league going,” said Tyson. “It’s going to be a huge issue for everybody.”
Tyson addressed Rossland council on behalf of the TCHL but says a decision to change its policy or make an exception is unlikely.
A rec agreement between the Silver and Golden Cities would be ideal, but until then Davison says the issue of paying for the facilities remains at the forefront.
“If the money isn’t there to keep the facilities open, to the degree people expect them to be, it will be very cut and dry when the decisions come, and ice rental and how we go about managing facilities will completely change.”
Davison goes onto say, that with an impending shortfall in this year’s budget due to the collapse of the recreation agreement, she is already concerned about next year and the City’s ability to keep the facilities operating at full capacity.
“They should be upset about over the fact that they shouldn’t have to absorb additional fees to have ice or a pool or whatever for their group to play . . . If people aren’t willing to pay for it and are going to choose to not participate or pay what they rightfully should to have venues available for their use, then I guess that will drive how frequently they are open and available for rent over time. ”
With no reimbursement pending from the City of Rossland and more red tape required from Trail, organized sport in Trail may becoming more expensive and trouble than its worth for Rossland athletes.
“With the Aquatic Centre stuff, it’s ridiculous,” said Tyson. “I mean a guy has to come in and buy a sports pass from Fruitvale and the Village will reimburse you, and the Village of Montrose is the same, but Rossland won’t play.”