A tween girls' hockey league launched by a Toronto mother has cancelled its 2023-24 season, she says, because the group couldn't get access to workable, weeknight ice time nearby in North York.
Amy Laski, who founded the league so her daughters could play, told CBC Toronto on Tuesday the organization was forced to pull the plug on its season even after it appeared a reprieve was coming earlier this year.
"They're really disappointed," Laski said of the league's players. "We're hoping some kind of ice fairy comes along and is able to provide us with ice."
The city says alternate accommodations for ice time were provided to the Tween Girls' Hockey League (TGHL), but it was declined. Laski maintains the root of the issue is the way the city allocates ice time.
In previous years the league used private ice, which came at twice the cost, she said. So this year they applied for city accommodations.
"We were told there was little to no chance to ever get city ice … because they had to honour any existing contracts they had, and any leftovers then get redistributed," she said.
"But nobody really gives up prime ice time, and so we were left without." By the time the group tried to go back and book private ice time, everything was full, she said.
Amy Laski founded the Tween Girls' Hockey League in 2021. She says it's been challenging to get access to city-owned rinks and that policies should be revised. (Jason Trout/CBC News)
Laski maintains the way city allocates ice makes it difficult for organizations that aren't entrenched in pre-existing hockey culture to get a foothold, leaving them on the outside looking in.
In a statement to CBC News, city officials said the league was "allocated prime ice time" on Saturday mornings at Downsview Arena, which is near the group's preferred locations within North York.
"Subsequently, TGHL communicated that they could not accept Saturday ice time because some TGHL players are from Sabbath-observant homes," the statement read. "City staff then worked to identify an alternative prime ice time option for TGHL to accommodate its needs. TGHL ultimately declined this alternative option."
The alternative option the city provided was in Etobicoke, which Laski says was too far away from where most players in the league live. She is now asking the city to reassess who gets ice time in its facilities.
The city, meanwhile, says it is "committed to working with TGHL and to making every reasonable effort to accommodate its needs when allocating ice for the 2024/2025 season."