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Seeking a viable solution for the CSL Minor Hockey Association

In recent weeks the mayor and city council have been receiving a lot of communication from parents whose children are registered in the Côte Saint-Luc Minor Hockey Association (CSLMHA) regarding the amount of ice time they receive.

Minor hockey players like this are seeking more ice time.


While I have responded individually to my constituents, it is important  for people to understand the role of elected officials. We do not focus our attention on operational issues. That is why we hire staff.  But of course, when our citizens are upset about something, it is our duty to look into the matter seriously. We have certainly done that and at our weekly meetings many hours have been devoted to  detailed briefings on the allocation of ice time.

I grew up playing minor hockey in Côte Saint-Luc. We had no arena when I started out so we rented space in Montreal West and had games  at the crack of dawn on weekends. The Samuel Moskovitch Arena opened in 1977 and over the past 47 years participation grew on all fronts, from hockey to figure skating not to mention rentals. An arena is an expensive facility to  fund and we have always devoted most of the available ice time to our own citizens.

Again, I will re-emphasize the fact that we have an experienced team of staff at the Parks and Recreation Department, not to mention some key individuals at City Hall, who oversee these dossiers.

“As elected officials our primary role is to help the individual, every individual; improving happiness and quality of life,” states Mayor Brownstein. “That's what we do and why we do it.  Balancing interests is a difficult task and favoring anyone is against our core values, so we leave staff to try to find the best fair balance. When we disappoint it saddens us.”

One parent wrote to tell me that he has  been made aware by the CSLMHA that the city   has not been supportive towards the program. I can speak on behalf of the mayor and council by saying this: if we could wave a magic wand and simply agree to every single demand of the CSLMHA we would. If money was no object (or we could find a very generous multi-million dollar sponsor) we would have a second indoor arena/ice surface.  But that is certainly not something that is happening tomorrow.

When I was a local hockey player, it was the staff of the Parks and Recreation Department that oversaw the programming, working of course with many volunteers.  The CSLMHA , just like the CSL Figure Skating Club, is an independent entity, and their volunteers put in countless hours of work.  However, it is their role to negotiate with the city over ice time, manage their own budget, oversee registration and other matters.

So here is what our staff do when it comes to ice time, as my colleague and Parks and Recreation dossier holder Andee Shuster emphasizes. For starters they review the requests from all the groups wishing to rent ice time and then they build a schedule. It is important to note that the CSLMHA is able to rent half of all prime-time ice time at the arena, plus another six hours at the Sports Annex. That is by far the most prime-time hours rented to any group. “The city doesn’t run the CSLMHA,” Andee reminded us. “Our role is to meet with it, listen to its requests, balance those requests with those from other groups, and then build a schedule—imperfect as it may be to the wishes and desires of each group—that is fair to all.”

The city is well aware that many residents observe Shabbat and this was taken into account when building the schedule. It is one of many factors we take into account, including, for instance, school end time.

The CSLMHA has told our staff that they  require 38 hours of ice time per week for the upcoming 2024-25 season, which would represent an increase in five hour per week.  Furthermore, they ask for an increase on days that are not Friday or Saturday; if it is an increase in weekday ice, then nothing before 6 pm and ending after 10 pm; and if it is an increase on Sunday ice time, nothing ending past 10 pm. This is not including Annexe time.

Our staff met with the CSLMA Executive in January, at which time it was stated that changes would be made to the current schedule to accommodate their requests, but it was unlikely that we could make this happen in  its entirety.

A meeting will take place in May to reach a final agreement for next season. The city’s objective remains to ensure that the global community is taken into consideration.

Cornelia Ziga, our director of Parks and Recreation, said it best when she explained that our mandate is to provide a wide variety of opportunities for a variety of sports and leisure activities. Our arena accommodates hockey (all ages), learn to skate, figure skating, and public skate. It satisfies the mandate. The casualty at the arena we are told is  public skating. Its time has been reduced significantly due to the increased demand from CSLMHA.

“In terms of valuing residents over non-residents, we do that with early registration, preferred pricing, and other access,” says Councillor Shuster.

The CSLMHA  is quite frankly a victim of its own success, having grown the program beyond its own mandate. So naturally that translates into a need for more ice time.    

In conclusion, we are all on the same team here. We have heard the concerns from individual parents who were encouraged by the CSLMHA  to e-mail their city councillors. Our staff have once again been asked to  make this dossier a priority and come up with the best  plan possible within our means.

There is no incentive for the mayor and council to dismiss these concerns. Let’s hope for a resolution that satisfies all parties.


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