Women's hockey advocate calls for equity policy at Cape Breton rinks to share ice time

Christina Lamey is president of the Cape Breton Blizzard Female Hockey Association. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
Christina Lamey is president of the Cape Breton Blizzard Female Hockey Association. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

A women's hockey advocate in Cape Breton wants local rinks to adopt policies that would give male and female players the opportunity for equal ice time.

Christina Lamey is president of the Cape Breton Blizzard Female Hockey Association, which has a membership of 400 players.

Lamey said the girls' organization welcomes 100 new players each year. But despite its ongoing popularity, finding ice times continues to be a challenge.

"It all boils down to the concept of there's no policy here that ensures that ice is given out equitably across arenas in the area," Lamey said in an interview with Information Morning Cape Breton.

Minor hockey associations in Nova Scotia generally pick the ice time they need "and anybody else can get whatever's left over," she says.

Josefa Cameron/CBC
Josefa Cameron/CBC

Lamey, a former president of the Nova Scotia Women's Hockey League, said Halifax rinks were pushed to create their own policies a decade ago as they grappled with growing concerns that women and girls were being left out of the sport.

Since then, says Lamey, Halifax has seen exponential growth in female hockey after dividing playing times up more fairly.

Lamey wants a similar policy implemented by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, which owns and operates three local rinks in Sydney, Glace Bay and Coxheath.

A few more ice times were added for female players wanting to play at CBRM rinks, but Lamey said the male teams displaced by the new schedule, in turn, bumped them out of other spots not run by the CBRM.

"It's a little bit of musical chairs being played — unintentionally," Lamey said.

Paul MacDonald, CBRM facilities manager, said the municipality is willing to do more when it comes to ensuring their facilities are fairly assigning ice times.

"I wouldn't be opposed to [an equity policy] or something like that. That's something that should be discussed for ... all folks looking for access to facilities," he said.

There is also a rink shortage in Cape Breton at the moment because the Canada Games Complex located on the campus of Cape Breton University is under renovations to become a home for female hockey on the island.

Last year, the Cape Breton Blizzard organization launched a campaign about its lack of ice time and won the top prize of $250,000 from the annual Kraft Hockeyville Canada contest to renovate the Canada Games Complex.

Both the Blizzard group and the CBU Capers women's hockey team raised an additional $90,000 toward the revitalization project.

Lamey said ice-making equipment has been ordered, however, it will take another two seasons before the rink is ready to welcome female players.