Kamloops minor hockey hit as Memorial Arena remains homeless shelter | iINFOnews

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02 October 2021 – 18:03

Kamloops hockey teams are tightening their laces for shorter ice times and longer trips as the Memorial Arena continues to be used as a shelter for the homeless.

Parents of hockey players are “in their mouths” as they figure out where to throw their anger, said Kamloops Minor Hockey Association board chair Nathan Bosa.

“We don’t want anyone to be homeless. It’s not our intention… but having an old arena like this with the minimum number of people using it makes no sense,” Bosa said.

Memorial Arena opened as a shelter space last winter because COVID-19 health measures prevented hockey players from hitting the ice, but now that health restrictions will allow players to hitting the ice, availability of the rinks is suffocated.

The lease to use the arena as a shelter space between the City and BC Housing was extended indefinitely on July 20 in lieu of a lack of shelter beds in Kamloops.

READ MORE: Don’t expect ice at Memorial Arena until more shelter space opens up in Kamloops

Council voted to extend the lease at a closed-door council meeting in hopes that BC Housing would expedite the search for new accommodation.

There are 1,100 players in the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association, which is just one of 80 other user groups that use rinks in Kamloops, including figure skating groups and adult recreational leagues. .

Bosa said there were players on the waiting lists and teams who couldn’t train because there just wasn’t enough ice space to support them. This would be a problem even if there was ice at the Memorial Arena, but the BC Housing lease puts additional pressure on the need for ice time.

Hockey teams are now scheduling games and practices outside of Kamloops as needed at places like Logan Lake and Chase.

The Tournament Capital of Canada would normally host 24 tournaments per year through the Minor Hockey Association. Bosa expects them to return to 16 tournaments in the 2021/2022 season, with some taking place in other communities.

READ MORE: More money won’t solve the homeless crisis in the Okanagan and Kamloops, but leadership will

When minor hockey brought its concerns to city council, the council stressed that the lack of visitors to hockey tournaments would put additional pressure on hotels, restaurants and sporting goods stores. These businesses receive a financial boost during the hockey season.

The Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association, the regional body for minor hockey, also wrote a letter to Kamloops City Council to say that the loss of ice time affects the entire Thompson-Okanagan region.

The Okanagan Hockey Association will meet next week, according to Bosa, to schedule the entire season, but the loss of the Memorial Arena represents a loss of more than 50 hours of ice time that will need to be extended to d ‘other rinks. This does not include all other groups that use the ice time available in Kamloops.

READ MORE: Kamloops missed $ 1 million in homeless grants

City Councilor Dale Bass told iNFOnews.ca in August that the search for a new space for the homeless was a “work in progress,” and the return of the Kamloops Curling Club – which previously served as a home for the homeless. shelter – put additional pressure on shelter space in Kamloops.

Bosa, however, is not convinced the hockey association should shift responsibility for the need for shelter onto the shoulders of the mayor and city council, but the association wants more support from city leaders. .

“Working together would be better than working against each other, and I don’t feel like we’re working together right now,” he said. “Obviously, anyway, we don’t want people thrown out on the streets just to play hockey.”


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