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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – While the North Peace Alumni Hockey School won’t be offering hockey clinics in the Energetic City this year, the school could be coming back in 2017.

NPAHS President Brad Fast gave a presentation at the June 13th council meeting, when he expressed concern about his organisation being charged a different fee structure than in the previous eleven years the school has been put on, and has resulted in this year’s clinic being cancelled. Mayor Lori Ackerman explained to Fast that it would be illegal for the city to offer preferential treatment to for-profit organisations, which the school is. In previous years, the school was charged a Minor (youth non-profit) rate, as opposed to the Commercial rate. According to the city, the school’s ice rates in 2014 and 2015 totalled $6,731.52 and $7,522.15 respectively. The Commercial rates during those years totalled $33,767.52 and $28,277.15, differences of $27,036 in 2014 and $20,755 in 2015. The city projects that based on the current commercial rate of $303.41 per hour, the NPAHS would be paying $28,278.09 for the ice this year were the clinic were to go ahead, $21,389 more than the school’s previous rate.

A motion was put forward to council that while the fee structure not change, that the city would not require a 50% deposit for the school’s ice fees sixty days prior to the ice rental, instead allowing the school to pay the full fees on the first day of the clinic. Councillor Byron Stewart asked whether the school could simply provide the clinic through Fort St. John Minor Hockey. The city’s Director of Community Services Wally Ferris says that FSJ Minor Hockey could in fact enter into an agreement with the city to rent the ice, and then hire the NPAHS on a contract or other basis in order to put on the school. Ferris also explained that it would not be economical to put ice into the smaller North Peace Arena in lieu of at the Pomeroy Sport Centre, as the city puts ice into the speed-skating oval track close to the time that the NPAHS is usually scheduled. Mayor Ackerman expressed concern at the motion allowing for a one-off to the city’s deposit policy, stating that if the policy isn’t appropriate, it should be changed.

Council moved to defer a decision on the deposit policy for the hockey school until the city has completed their Parks and Recreation Master Plan. According to Ferris, the Master Plan is due out in November, with the associated facility rental fee structures being presented to council between November and January.

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