ORFA Response to Hockey Canada Rule Book (version 2, July 2023)

August 24, 2023

As part of the Hockey Canada Rule Book 2022-2024 version two, released July 2023, there are specific references and direction to facility management that the Ontario Recreation Facilities Association (ORFA) is recommending each facility owner and manager review and consider implications to their operation.

It is assumed that the intent of Hockey Canada providing information related to facility management and operations is to assist in providing a safe and functional ice surface, as well as the necessary support services environment. The ORFA recognizes that the information provided within the Rule Book is offered in the best interest of the game of hockey, but at times, may conflict with other users, facility needs or building operational practices. Also, at times, the language used in the Rule Book creates the potential for confusion when being interpreted. As such, a reminder that the information should be taken under advisement with the facility’s policies, procedures and operational best practices taking priority.

ACTION - ORFA members are strongly encouraged to review the Hockey Canada updated Rule Book with a focus on Section 1 – Playing Area (Page 25) and Appendix F – Duties of Teams or Rink Managers Relating to Rink Conditions.

The ORFA provides the following additional information for consideration and in the spirit of creating a positive relationship with Hockey Canada, affiliated Members or other organized sports that use community ice sheets.

1. General Overview – Any organized sport organization that uses a community rink has no direct authority to require services based on their internal expectation or sport need. It is recommended that facility management should always work with all user groups, where possible and reasonable, to create an environment that will meet each user groups needs. However, these needs should be agreed upon in advance and may require additional resources or premiums to facilitate.

2. Hockey Canada Rule Book, Section 1 – Playing area information shall be taken under advisement as there are multiple organized sports that use the ice surface environment. Noting that facilities that host Hockey Canada events may have an added hosting requirement to meet the expectations of the Rule Book. The following information requires each facility manager to consider how best to provide these services:

Rule 1.2 (d) Logos must not disrupt or alter any official ice markings as described in Section 1. It is recommended that no logos or advertising be allowed on the ice in the end zones.

Logos are often an important part of a facility revenue generation plan. Placement of logos not paid by any organization is always at the discretion of facility management. Users should be informed that removal or installation of any ice logo is labour intensive with significant cost that requires advance planning.

Rule 1.3 Division of Ice Surface

Hockey Canada offers some preferred measurements and layout information. Placement of ice markings is a decision of facility management that will be made in the best interest of all users.

Rule 1.4 Goal Posts and Nets

Goal nets are an added value to any rental but not necessarily a guaranteed provision as part of the ice rental agreement. There should be a clear understanding and agreement for responsibility to provide, set up and move them during ice surface flooding, and any associated additional costs that may be required for these services.

Rule 1.4 (a) In the centre of the goal lines between the side boards, regulation goal posts and nets of approved design and materials will be placed in such a manner as to remain stationary during the game. It is recommended that nets be restrained by magnetic, breakaway, or similar types of fastening devices in Hockey Canada games.

Facility management have no obligation to offer different options for securing nets beyond a traditional point peg that allows all users regardless of size, weight, or skill level to push the net with minimum contact. The need for a higher calibre type of net security required by the sport governing body must form part of the contractual relationship which identifies who assumes the liability for selecting the secured method, installation after each ice-resurfacing, as well as replacement during play. Should facility staff be responsible for this service, then a clear understanding and agreement for any additional costs will need to be identified as part of the ice rental agreement.

Rule 1.12 Signal and Timing Devices

It is reasonable to have the rental fee reflect an added service cost of installing and maintaining these devices.

Rule 1.13 Dressing Rooms

It is important that facility management include in the rental agreement that the use of dressing room is a privilege and that all users must always respect these areas. In addition, clarifying care and control of these areas by team representatives is strongly recommended.

3. Appendix F: Duties of Teams or Rink Managers to Rink Conditions

a. To provide proper police protection at all times.

It is important to identify and clarify that the cost for any form of security will be the sole responsibility of the user group. Any form of security must hold a recognized license as set out in Ontario’s Security Guard Act. The need or use of security in any facility must be preapproved by management.

b. To assist in having each game start on the advertised hour.

With the same importance in working together to have each game start on time, is the understanding that each rental must end on time. User groups must understand that no rental has the authority to exceed the rental period regardless of circumstance. Any deviation in this position should be negotiated in advance with facility management as part of the rental agreement.

c. To make certain that first-aid kits and stretchers are available.

Facilities have no legal responsibility to have these medical response materials or equipment on-site for users. The responsibility of the provision, inspection and upkeep of these items should be included in the facility contractual discussions and fee for service agreement.

ORFA Ice Plant Operational Limitations Warning

Not forming part of the Hockey Canada Rule Book update, but identified as one of the challenges being faced by many operations, the following ORFA Alert has been released to members, other provincial and territorial recreation facility organizations and directly with Hockey Canada and their Branches.

The Ontario Recreation Facilities Association (ORFA) continues to monitor the trend of ice user demands for untraditional ice season schedule extensions. It is extremely important to remind and warn ice surface facility owners that not all ice rinks are designed equal or capable of maintaining safe and serviceable ice conditions in extreme outdoor temperatures. Most of Canada’s indoor refrigerated ice sheet facility inventory was originally designed for seasonal use only. Traditionally, late fall to early spring (mid September to mid April). However, ever shifting weather patterns have reduced this capability in many facilities. This seasonal weather change, together with a lack of refrigeration ability have impacted recent court preceding and have set precedence for future litigation… [more]


Strong facility user relationships are an important part of every successful operation. Understanding the needs and responsibilities of both parties through open and ongoing communication is the key to success. The ORFA welcomes the opportunity to be part of any sport governing organization discussion that involves recreation facility operations and the need to improve their sport.