New Cross-Ice and Half-Ice Mandatory Policy From Hockey Canada Requires Communication and Careful Consideration With User Groups

MARCH 31, 2017 - The recent announcement by Hockey Canada to mandate cross-ice and half-ice for initiation aged players in the 2017/18 season requires all recreation facility managers to be prepared to work closely with local hockey organizations to ensure any change in current use (or past practice) is jointly approved. Read Hockey Canada Announcement.

No argument that increasing facility use and promoting healthy lifestyles are a benefit to all communities across Canada. However, with this new announcement from Hockey Canada comes a need for greater communication between both the facility owner and user group. The Ontario Recreation Facilities Association Inc. (ORFA) recommends that all recreation facility managers contact local league officials to remind them of the tenant landlord relationship that currently exists between those who use the buildings and those who are in fact legally responsible for maintaining a safe environment. Ice arena design is constructed to various codes, regulations and standards that must be respected by both parties. Any item that is added to an ice surface that is not of standard operating practice of the facility increases the potential for joint liability if not properly planned and approved.

Any item used to divide an ice surface will not:

    • Be a barrier to egress both on and off the ice
    • Create a trip hazard on the ice and further, when the device is removed, it must not create an indentation in the ice surface caused by melting
    • Contravene the Fire Code requirements for materials, sprinkler systems, or be stored in mechanical or electrical rooms

Other discussion points may also include:

    • Prior to any league considering purchasing manufactured ice rink division systems an agreement with facility management must be reached regarding storage. Ice arenas often already lack adequate storage space and these systems often require large areas for storage year-round. Moving these items for maintenance, cleaning or conflict with other facility rentals will often be an added unbudgeted cost to facility operations.
    • That set-up and removal be agreed upon, including any expectations regarding the wearing of personal protective equipment should it be agreed that users will be responsible for their own set up.
    • Further that time required for any set up and take down of dividers form part of the set user time allotment with no extension of use being acceptable.
    • Safe and proper storage of any non-facility owned equipment. This may require further clarification of insurance coverage for theft, fire or water damage while not being used.
    • That with increased users on the ice, comes a greater need for access to dressing rooms; which may already be challenged due to facility age and design.
    • That the municipality/facility owner be added to the third party’s CGL policy as an additional insured.
The ORFA recommends that any item used to divide an ice surface shall be:
    • Approved by facility management prior to use
    • Soft in nature and not create a trip hazard
    • Removed from the facility after each use unless identified and approved within the user agreement