Ice Allocation and Equity, News (Grand River Mustangs)

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Sep 10, 2023 | Jenn Cowie | 657 views
Ice Allocation and Equity
The Grand River Mustangs, more commonly known as the Mustangs, offer girls hockey to the residents of Centre Wellington. The Mustangs have an extensive legacy operating with no history of amalgamation or financial distress. We are proud to offer hockey to all ages of girls and women from ages 4 to 54 under the auspices of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association and Hockey Canada. The Mustangs place tremendous emphasis on a skills-based development program that emphasizes fun, fitness and friendship to support well rounded community members.

Beyond the game of hockey, the Mustangs are pleased to support the broader community in recognition of their support. In the last year the Mustangs have volunteered their time to support the Santa Claus Parade, Highland Games, Centre Wellington Canada Day celebrations, and Remembrance Day through over 200 hours of volunteerism. The Mustangs also make a large financial contribution to the community, our annual tournament welcomes over 2800 visitors to the Town and contributes over $325,000 to local businesses in a single weekend. During the remaining season, we continue to promote the community and host over 200 games with nearly 10,000 visitors in what would otherwise be the off season for tourism. This is all in addition to employment for 50 referees and timekeepers, many who are either youths or seniors. The almost 500 members of the Mustangs are proud of their community and want to see the whole community win!

While the Mustangs have experienced tremendous growth in recent years, that growth has been hampered by policies that prevent fair access to ice time for girls. While other ice users have seen their participation plateau or shrink, the distribution of ice by Centre Wellington Township has not changed. Ice in this Township is not allocated proportionally to the number of participants, instead ice is allocated in a hereditary manner. What this means is that 100 girls get less ice than 100 boys or men. To compensate for this inequity, the Mustangs have historically had to use ice outside of the community. The closure of the Elora Arena and arrival of the Fergus Whalers have exacerbated the problem to the extent that new solutions and policy changes are required urgently for the 2023/24 season. Throughout June, July, August, and September the Mustangs have engaged Centre Wellington Township, Fusion Minor Hockey, and Fergus Whalers to explore options where we can all succeed. While we have had great engagements with some stakeholders this summer, those three stakeholders have seen less of a need for compromise. As the first skates of the season have started, the Township’s final ice allocation has neared completion, and it is not an equitable plan. Nevertheless, there remains a small window where the season for all ice users can be saved with leadership from the Mayor and Council.

Call to Action and Solutions

Despite the concerns identified, the Mustangs believe the following solutions can benefit the whole community. We call on the Township to immediately enact meaningful change.

The Mustangs call for:
1. An immediate meeting of all ice users as promised to us by Pat Newson, Managing Director of Community Services and Matt Tucker, Manager of Facilities on behalf of the Township of Centre Wellington over 8 weeks ago.

2. A review and update of Centre Wellington’s fifteen-year-old, outdated Indoor Facility Allocation Policy so that it reflects the diversity and growth our community has seen.

3. The Fusion were offered 7 hours of prime-time ice weekend in Arthur and the Mustangs were offered a similar quantity in Harriston. No organization should bear the sole of travelling 3 times the distance for the same ice. The Township should ensure all users share this burden equally.

4. The Mustangs are calling for a fair and transparent disclosure of the agreement reached with Fergus Whalers, a for profit organization that benefits non-resident males between the ages of 18-21. Prime Sunday afternoon ice for the Whalers means that young women in our community will travel outside of Centre Wellington for late evening ice. With little meaningful community consultation, the community needs to know how long this agreement is in place for and when these older adults can start using evening ice.

5. The Mustangs also call for ice allotments for our U22 and Senior Women’s League participants. The 2023 allocation of ice did not include these users despite consideration for men’s “Beer League”. The ask of this group is small and needs to be addressed so that women can have the same great experience of hockey in our community as men.

What Can You Do?

The patience and restraint shown by Mustang Families while we sought an equitable compromise was amazing. Regrettably the time has come to engage our municipal leaders.

If you’d like to review the Township’s Indoor Facility Allocation Policy, please reach out to: Pat Newson at [email protected] and Matt Tucker at [email protected] 

If you’d like to reach out to your local counsellor, please go to: https://www.centrewellington.ca/en/township-services/mayor-and-council.aspx

In complete transparency Councilors, Jennifer Adams and Kim Jefferson have offered great support. Regrettably others have been less engaged or responsive and we need to let all of Council and the Mayor know that this issue matters. There is still time for all of Centre Wellington to “win” but the window for compromise is closing.
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