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Grand River Mustangs call for review of 'outdated' ice allocation policy

Dan Gillies, Mustangs' president, said the policy from 2008 puts an unfair burden of traveling for ice on girls hockey
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CENTRE WELLINGTON – A local girls hockey organization is calling on the Township of Centre Wellington to review and update an “outdated” ice allocation policy they say adds an unfair burden of traveling to ice outside the township.

The Grand River Mustangs, a Centre Wellington girls hockey association, released a statement saying the growing organization is being “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,” the statement stated.

This is referring to the township’s Indoor Facility Allocation Policy which was approved in 2008 and has not seen any revisions since.

The policy prioritizes giving ice time first to municipal programs such as public skates, then to special events and tournaments, third to major Centre Wellington teams such as the Elora Rocks and the new Fergus Whalers with minor youth and non-profit organizations fourth. 

Dan Gillies, Mustangs’ president, said in a phone interview prioritizing for profit teams is something that should be examined.

“We need to take a look at the roster of the Whalers for example, are they really a Centre Wellington based organization? Are they bringing in a lot of players from outside the area?” Gillies said. “The vast majority of our members are from Centre Wellington.”

Overall, Gillies said he believes there’s a systemic bias built into the policy that doesn’t reflect the Mustangs growing organization which is up 50 per cent over two years. He said the organization was approaching 400 registrants for the upcoming season.

“Boys have retained ice back for many years and girls hockey is really building and is growing in the community and we need to be able to access some of that ice,” Gillies said.

The Mustangs’ base ice time for a week is 35 hours and Gillies wasn't aware of what Centre Wellington Minor Hockey, also known as Centre Wellington Fusion, gets. Gillies' understanding of the policy is it is based on the number of teams each organization creates for the previous year rather than the total number of registrants.

Fusion president Christine Cook declined to comment on this story but previously told EloraFergusToday the organization was expecting up to 800 registrants.

Township spokesperson Kendra Martin said in an email there were no plans to review the policy at this time. Follow-up questions, including a request for an explanation of the prioritization list, have yet to be answered.

Gillies noted with the township being down one rink for the rest of 2023 due to the renovations, it has been buying up ice time outside of Centre Wellington. As an example, he said Centre Wellington Minor Hockey were offered seven hours of prime-time weekend ice in Arthur while the Mustangs were given a similar quantity in Harriston, which the letter notes is three times the distance for the same ice.

In the letter, the Mustangs have asked the township for the following:

  • An immediate meeting of all ice users
  • A review of the Indoor Facility Allocation Policy
  • Ensuring the burden of travelling for out of town ice is shared equally across organizations
  • The disclosure of the agreement with the Fergus Whalers
  • Ice allotments for the Mustangs’ U22 and senior women’s league participants

Gillies doesn’t think it’s too late to work something out for this season but there’s also not a lot of time either. 

“There’s a small window where we can save this, I think we can probably save this if the town wants to come to the table in the next five or 10 days,” Gillies said. “We can do this, but people need to come to the table now.”

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Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka is a general assignment reporter for EloraFergusToday, covering Wellington County. Keegan has been working with Village Media for more than two years and helped launch EloraFergusToday in 2021.
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