Council asked to consider equity for girls hockey in ice-time policy

MAPLETON – A local resident says Mapleton Township has a chance to be a leader in providing opportunity and equity to young female hockey players through an ice-time allocation policy the municipality is developing.

At the Dec. 12 Mapleton council meeting, public works director Jamie Morgan advised council that Mapleton staff is currently putting together a policy on how ice time is allocated at the PMD area in response to recent discussions at meetings of the township’s parks and recreation committee (PARC).

At that meeting, councillor Michael Martin noted the PMD arena has been running at full capacity this year, with Drayton Minor Hockey purchasing ice elsewhere, while local ice time is being rented out to organizations outside Mapleton, including the Centre Wellington Minor Hockey Association. 

Martin suggested considering a policy to ensure local user groups get priority on ice time ahead of out-of-town users.

At the Feb. 13 meeting, Jodi Colwill, whose son and two daughters all began playing hockey in Drayton, asked council to consider that regional girls teams, such as the Grand River Mustangs, include multiple players and parent volunteers from Mapleton, as well as other communities.

“This season, about half of our U13 team is Mapleton residents. There’s a U15 local league team that is predominantly Mapleton residents. My daughter’s U9 team has four of 16 of them being Mapleton residents,” Colwill noted.

“I’m here as a concerned parent of girls hockey because I think it’s important that females in our organization, in our towns and our organizations, are offered those same opportunities.”

She continued, “Currently the Township of Mapleton has been accommodating, helping in their area, with giving some hours, which is new I know this year.

“Some of that has been because the Elora arena has been closed, but unfortunately, girls’ hockey has not gotten equitable ice allocation for many, many years.”

Colwill decided to approach council after reading an article in the North Wellington Community News about the proposed ice time allocation policy.

She noted the article included comments about “creating a so-called pecking order” for ice time.

“I appreciate keeping that to our local residents, but I want to be very clear that the girls playing hockey in this community are local residents and so are the families that are supporting them,” said Colwill.

“Does the township have a Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee that would be reviewing this policy prior to coming to council, or prior to being developed? And will there be an opportunity for community stakeholders like the Mustangs to get feedback on that policy?”

Mapleton public works director Jamie Morgan explained the township is currently gathering legal input on the proposed policy.

“I have reached out to our legal representation and to Centre Wellington (which is currently updating its ice allocation policy) … So both of us are working on it at the same time,” said Morgan.

“We both have the same lawyer, so it’s being worked on and they’re hoping to have a draft to us very shortly for council’s review.”

Councillor Martin Tamlyn asked, “When scheduling ice time, what time of year, does that happen and can there be a larger conversation maybe?” 

Morgan said establishing such timelines would be a part of the policy.

He pointed out the existing Centre Wellington policy calls for ice time requests to be submitted by February for the following year.

“Some of ours come in the end of August, which is not a lot of time to plan, so this will really spell out some rules for ice allocation and it will be a fair and transparent process,” said Morgan.

Colwill said, “I want to challenge the council on understanding the differences between women’s and men’s hockey, because things in policies like the Centre Wellington policy stating 80% of residents have to be from Centre Wellington is okay for minor hockey, it is not okay for OWHA (Ontario Women’s Hockey Association) hockey because our geographical boundaries, in order for this to occur, is different. 

“So that’s really the points that we’re trying to make and that’s really where that diversity and inclusion comes in.”

Mayor Gregg Davidson suggested Colwill could return with a delegation once council has a draft policy to consider. He asked Morgan if user groups would be consulted as part of the policy development process.

“This is a first … kick at making a policy of this sort, so I think that’s a conversation that staff will have with our legal representation on this and get direction from them,” said Morgan.

“I’ll bring it back to council at some point and that can be a council decision whether they want to have a public meeting on it.”

Council received Colwill’s delegation for information.

Later in the meeting, under new business, Martin suggested the draft policy be directed to the PARC committee once it’s ready. Martin prefaced his remarks by noting council protocol discourages “debating with delegations. 

“But I also feel bad about talking about them, because they’ve already left,” he said.

“I know it’s delicate, considering the equity conversation that’s been brought forward. Could that policy be referred down to the parks and rec committee for input?

“There’s also a conversation to have about capacity, facility capacity,” said Martin.

“And just declaring yourself a local user group doesn’t make it so …  And we’ve got a long history of user groups that have been using our facilities … I think it could be appropriate to let the citizens on our parks and rec committee actually have a bit of a say or some input.

“Perhaps if the Centre Wellington Mustangs want to delegate to that particular committee, that could be a good spot for them.”

“I was thinking the other way around, maybe come to council first and then go back to parks and rec committee. But I leave that open to council, either/or,” said Davidson.

“I’d like to see some input from the citizens that were chosen to be on this committee. That’s kind of their purview, right?” said councillor Marlene Ottens.

“So it can go to the committee first, before it comes to council,” agreed Davidson.

North Wellington Community News