St. Lazare teens ousted from public ice rink
Dads cry foul as Vaudreuil teamtakes over
Town trying to help
Some St. Lazare fathers are protesting what they say was unfair treatment when local teenagers were ousted from a public ice rink last week for an organized team practice.
The problem, say the dads, is the team that displaced as many as 15 local boys playing lastWednesday on a public hockey rink at Bédard Park was from Vaudreuil-Dorion.
Adding insult to injury, according to witnesses, the teens were not asked nicely to leave the rink.
“These are good kids and this is their public park,” Gary MacDowell, who went to the park to skate with his two young sons, said of the St. Lazare teens.
“There were 12 to 15 boys playing shinny (pick-up) hockey when an Atom A team from Vaudreuil showed up and told them (St. Lazare’s recreation director) had authorized the ice time,” he said.
The “obviously upset” boys moved their game to a second Bédard hockey rink, though one reserved for younger players.
According to the town’s website, age restrictions apply at the two hockey rinks.
‘To ensure the players’ safety, one ice rink is reserved for players aged 12 and up, while another one is reserved for those 11 and under,’ reads the notice.
“It’s not safe for the bigger kids to play with little kids on the same rink for obvious reasons,” noted MacDowell, who said he felt bad for the teens.
St. Lazare communications director Geneviève Hamel said ice time was reserved at the public park from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Feb. 3 for a team practice.
According to Hamel, the practice was authorized by St. Lazare recreation director Louis Paquin.
St. Lazare does not have an official policy or resolution prohibiting organized teams from using public rinks, she explained, adding permission may be granted up to five times a year.
“We’ve been doing this for the past three years and no one has complained,” said Hamel, noting the town simply wanted to help teams out.
Teams are not charged money to use the public arena.
But a second father, who also witnessed the event, said when he tried to reserve ice time the next day for his son’s St. Lazare hockey team, he was told no.
“I spoke with (the recreation department)... They don’t accept reservations anymore,” noted the father, who did not want his name used in print.
“I guess Vaudreuil has priority over HRS (teams) in our own parks,” he concluded.
For its part, Vaudreuil-Dorion says none of the town’s eight outdoor hockey rinks can be reserved by teams or used for team practices.
“It’s supposed to be for the citizens to use,” said a Vaudreuil recreation official.
A sticking point between St. Lazare and the dads is the town’s claim the teens were ousted for a regional team practice.
Hamel said they try to accommodate HRS teams (Hudson, Rigaud, St. Lazare), as well as double-letter teams within the Trois-Lacs organization.
Trois-Lacs players may also come from St. Lazare.
But both fathers and a third man who also did not want to be named, say the teamwas fromVaudreuil-Dorion.
“They were wearing Vaudreuil jackets and one of the parents said they were from Vaudreuil,” said the third man, adding, “This was definitely not a Trois-Lacs team.”
And a Vaudreuil-Dorion Minor Hockey Association website seems to confirm the ice time.
The Atom A Vikings listed Patinoire extérieure Saint-Lazare as the location for its 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3 outdoor practice.
For now, Hamel says St. Lazare will no longer allow teams to practice on public rinks, nor will recreation officials reserve time for organized teams.
“Because you have a few people complaining youwill have a lot of organizations that suffer fromthis,” she said.
Local and not so local hockey teams want to use the outdoor hockey rinks at St. Lazare’s Bédard Park.