I have to say I was shocked to see the West Kelowna Minor Hockey Leadership make such blatantly false public statements to the media regarding our 6:00 pm starts on Saturday, and the 50/50.
Before I made the decision to move Saturday games to 6:00 pm we studied the impact on minor hockey closely, as well as our need to improve attendance. We eliminated all but 3 week day games, returning over 20 hours of ice. We also eliminated all but 3 Sunday games, returning an additional 20 hours of ice for a total of 40 hours. There are 11 – 6:00 pm starts all season, with 3 of them in September where there are few to no Minor Hockey games (Minor Hockey doesn’t even get going until October), and one when Minor Hockey is on Christmas break and 1 in February when Minor hockey is wrapped up, except for a few teams who may still be in playoffs. The resulting impact is 6 hours. This nets Minor Hockey 34 hours of ice they never had before on Sundays and weekdays. To make the statement that kids will have to be turned away is irresponsible and factually incorrect.
If Mrs. Douglas Is so concerned about turning kids away then maybe she can explain why she suddenly took all the ice away from the BC Hockey zone program. After supporting it for the first year, suddenly after her son was released from it she decided not to support it to “support the local membership instead”. The BC Hockey Zone program has no practice ice and are now scrambling to find a solution. This was done prior to our 6:00 pm announcement.
It is interesting that Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm, and many others have changed start times this year and there has not been a single issue with either the city or their Minor Hockey.
Our lease is extremely clear that we are the Anchor tenant and have first rights to all ice in Jim Lind and Royal Lepage for our practices and games prior to any other program allocations. It’s been this way for 13 years.
Looking back in time the building was voted on in a Referendum and, as part of that referendum, it was conditioned that a Junior A team be located and supported. The first referendum failed as people felt it was a waste of money until the support and relocation of a Junior A franchise was added to the question. Only then did it pass. If it was not for the Warriors moving here in 2006 that building would not have been built as it stands.
Mrs. Douglas is forgetting that ALL taxpayers fund this facility to the tune of 1 million a year, not just hockey parents. The ice fees paid to by minor hockey is negligible compared to what the building costs to operate. It’s a community building for all to use, Minor hockey has 500+ kids enrolled out of a community of close to 40,000. We support dozens of community groups and provide an family experience and a great sports for 1000’s and 1000’s of people all winter long and provide a massive economic impact to the community. I am pretty sure that building was not built for 500 kids to the tune of 12 million dollars (20 million in todays dollars), with a million dollar operation cost to the city every year. Sorry Mrs. Douglas, its for all of the community to use. Your organization already takes up most of the ice, for a disproportionality small number of users. Its not your ice. It’s the taxpayers ice.
Mrs. Douglas statements on the 50/50 again are false. The Warriors had some serious concerns about where the funds were going, and we asked for an account of the proceeds on a number of occasions and never received a response. The Warriors are also owed an estimated $30,000 as part of that agreement which has never been paid. Funds were to be used to help support academic opportunity for our players. We have asked for this issue to be addressed and it was ignored. We suspended the 50/50 agreement in May of 2018 in accordance with the cancellation terms hoping Minor Hockey would come to the table to address these issues. They did strike a committee and we started to go back and forth then they just disappeared without reason or notice. It was quite obvious they had no desire to support our organization. It was then the decision was made to distribute the 50/50 to other organizations to support the community at large and help build a larger fan base.
Mrs. Douglas then made a statement at their AGM in 2018 that “The Warriors took away the 50/50 so we have to raise our fees”. They proceeded to raise the fees by I believe $80. She then goes on to state that they lost $13,000 of 50/50, which amounts to $23 per player, yet fees were raised by close to $80. I suppose the leader of a minor hockey association should double check her figures before she tries to pull the wool over the eyes of her membership. In fact, they are sitting with over $200,000 cash in the bank. The class D license Minor Hockey requires for 50/50 does not permit proceeds to be put towards fees. They must be used for program enhancements such as tournament costs, travel, team apparel etc. Mrs. Douglas is either purposely misleading her membership, or not competent enough to run that organization. Her responses which I believe to be fabricated are a symptom of a larger issue facing the minor hockey system all across BC and maybe Canada. What I have observed over the years has made it quite obvious It’s not about the kids, but more about power, self-interest, and advancement of their own children to levels of play they don’t belong at.
On another note, before I took over, this franchise was a feeding frenzy by many who abused and took advantage of the good will of the previous owner, Mr. Cheyne, to the tune of over 1 million in losses. I believe this franchise can be successful and viable, but the feeding trough had to close.
I expected much conflict as I navigated the political landscape and removed the self interested, and worked to make everything right again. I am sure there is more conflict to come.
Everything we as an organization do is for the benefit of the community at large. Myself and the all-star cast of staff and volunteers will continue to work for the community and push back against those who are more focused on what’s good for themselves, as opposed what’s in the best interest of the community in which they live.
Please support our club. Games tickets for this fall will be available shortly.
Kim Dobranski – Owner/President
West Kelowna Warriors Junior A Hockey Club