New Brunswick

Parents say playing hockey in Dalhousie too expensive

A hockey dispute over user fees in Dalhousie is now seeing young hockey players refused access to the town's arena.

Dalhousie arena staff blocked the ice with a Zamboni Monday night

A hockey dispute over user fees in Dalhousie is now seeing young hockey players refused access to the town's arena.

On Monday evening, the arena staff blocked the ice with a Zamboni because two players had not paid the fee.

The practice had to be cancelled.

The parents say they can't afford the fees. Some others say they simply shouldn't have to pay them.

Jim Charest, a minor hockey coach, has four players who won't be allowed on the ice Wednesday evening because of where they live.

Christian Levesque says the fees he's expected to pay for his son to play hockey are unaffordable.

"Like I always say to my kids, when I coach, I coach the whole team. I don't coach half a team and right now, I'm probably going to end up coaching half a team," Charest said.

Last year, Dalhousie town council decided to make up for falling revenue by charging any hockey player not living within town limits an extra $500 user fee to use its ice rink.

The cost of hockey

So for a family with a child who plays hockey, parents must pay $460 a year per child for league fees and an extra $500 user fee per person, each year.

For one person to play hockey for a season in Dalhousie, it will cost $960.

"There are user fees in other areas. Fredericton has a user fee of almost $700 per user, per activity. So when you compare the $500 to the rate that's being charged in Fredericton, it's much less expensive," said Christy Arsenault, chief administrative officer for Dalhousie.

For hockey parents like Christian Levesque, the fee is unaffordable because he already shells out $460 to the league for his son to play.

"If we have to put all of our money into hockey instead of our family values, somewhere along the way we'll be in bad trouble," Levesque said.

Charest said those who can't pay the $500 are allowed in the arena, just not on the ice or the player's bench.

"If they put their equipment on [the ice], the town of Dalhousie said that they would put the Zamboni right on the ice like they did the other night. They would put the Zamboni on the ice and stop the practice. So that means they're going to punish all the kids," Charest said.

For Levesque's son, there's hope the season can still go on outside town limits because there are only two home games left, and there are almost 10 outside of Dalhousie.

Soon even playing out of town may not be an option for the players who haven’t paid the fee.

On Tuesday night, the local minor hockey league tabled a motion that would see anyone not practising in Dalhousie be prevented from playing games anywhere else.