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OPINION – Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce Weighs In On Dispute and Separation Between BCHL and Hockey Canada – Local Impact

The Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce have issued a lengthy concern about the dispute between BCHL and Hockey Canada and what that means to local young hockey players.

From the Chamber release: We would like to express our concern on the ongoing confusion and lack of clarity resulting from the separation of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) from Hockey Canada. This situation has significant implications for our community, particularly for young athletes and their families.
At the heart of this issue are the young athletes whose opportunities for growth, both in hockey and in life, are being adversely affected. Minor Hockey players are missing out on invaluable chances to play and interact with their BCHL idols. These experiences are crucial not only for their skill development but also for fostering a sense of community and sportsmanship. Similarly, BCHL players are being deprived of leadership and mentorship opportunities, roles instrumental in shaping these young athletes into responsible and contributing members of society, as well as future leaders.

Background:
BC Hockey, as an affiliate of Hockey Canada, oversees amateur hockey in British Columbia and Yukon, encompassing minor hockey leagues. In contrast, the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) is a junior ice hockey league catering to higher-level competitive play, which, until recently, fell under the governance of Hockey Canada.
Minor hockey leagues, part of the BC Hockey structure and sanctioned by Hockey Canada, face challenges due to BCHL’s recent decision to operate independently. This change affects the relationship between these organizations and can impact various collaborative activities.
This separation could imply significant changes for minor hockey players. For instance, participation of minor hockey teams during BCHL game intermissions or collaborative coaching sessions with BCHL teams like the Chilliwack Chiefs might no longer be feasible. These activities, previously integral to the development and exposure of young athletes, are currently being deemed uncertain.
Currently, Minor Hockey Associations across the region are relaying messages to the community that is unfortunately inaccurate, and more specifically in our community of Chilliwack. This is due to a lack of effective communication from all levels. The Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce has been in contact with both BC Hockey and PCAHA (Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association) with respect to these concerns and their roles in how this is affecting the community.
BC Hockey has stated that its primary and only concern is ensuring that Minor Hockey players and teams are aware that they should inquire about insurance and ensure that they have coverage when participating in intermission events, team events, 7th man or Junior official engagements etc. They stated that there are no other penalties or repercussions that they are aware of or that they enforce, however, that communities may implement their own policies if they so choose.

(VP of Operations and Events) PCAHA has stated that their primary and only concern is also that of insurance and that they are unaware of any other penalties or repercussions pertaining to the engagement of Minor Hockey teams and players in activities such as intermission games, 7th man or junior official opportunities, team events etc. In an email to the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director; Carol Mcgregor says; “We have not told anyone they cannot participate in events with member BCHL teams, but since the BCHL is non-sanctioned, they have been advised they will not be covered by Hockey Canada Insurance and the families will be on their own in this regard.”
The Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce has reached out to Chilliwack Minor Hockey for comment as well as to request that they speak to representatives at both BC Hockey and PCAHA to seek clarification and understanding of the rules and policies that are in place and to ensure that they are sharing accurate information with CMHA’s players, coaches and families. Our hope is to ensure that all of these organizations are supported equally with factual information and a positive path forward for the benefit of our whole community.
We also wanted to note that at least two BCHL teams have received official confirmation from BC Hockey allowing the continuation of various minor hockey events, should the organizations and teams be made aware that it is imperative that appropriate insurance is obtained for these events. These include Timbit intermission games, 50/50 raffles, participation of minor hockey players in ice cleaning crews, 7th man and junior official roles, as well as team events. The leadership of these organizations stated that effective communication was key from the very beginning between all parties.
**Information sent from BC Hockey to one of these BCHL teams, currently operating as normal, highlights the importance of adhering to proper guidelines. This correspondence emphasizes the policy in place to avoid ‘dual participation’ between sanctioned and non-sanctioned programs, defining participation as playing, managing, coaching, officiating, or acting as a trainer. Participation in events outside these definitions does not affect member eligibility, but does not include Hockey Canada insurance through BC Hockey as these events are outside the scope of sanctioned hockey.

To address these concerns, we propose:

  1. Enhanced Communication: Clear and consistent communication from both BCHL and BC Hockey and Minor Hockey Associations to all stakeholders, including parents, coaches, and players, about the implications of non-sanctioned league participation.
  2. Community Forums: Organizing community forums involving BCHL, BC Hockey, Minor Hockey and other key stakeholders to discuss the concerns and find common ground for the benefit of the youth and the community.
  3. Collaborative Initiatives: Exploring opportunities for collaboration between sanctioned and non-sanctioned leagues to facilitate community events and youth development programs.

The Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce remains committed to supporting solutions that uphold the integrity of the sport and the wellbeing of our young players. We believe in the power of hockey to build character, foster community spirit, and develop future leaders, and we advocate for a resolution that aligns with these values.

2023 Chilliwack Chamber Statement on Minor Hockey – Dec – Submitted

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