The Vancouver Giants are moving their practices elsewhere, much to the delight of local lacrosse teams and other dry floor users.
Parks and recreation director Ken Kuntz confirmed Giants’ owner Ron Toigo agreed to move the junior hockey team’s practices to other private locations by next week.
After the Easter weekend, the South Delta Recreation Centre should be ready for dry floor users.
The city has a contract with the Giants, who normally practice at the Ladner Leisure Centre, to provide ice time until early May should the hockey team have a lengthy playoff run. The Giants are doing just that, having just advanced to the Western Conference final of the Western Hockey League playoffs for the first time in nine years.
The Giants agreed to move their practices to the South Delta Recreation Centre, but keeping the ice in still caused a disruption and local lacrosse groups, saying the city had a bad deal with the Giants at the expense of local users, were vocal about being displaced.
They maintained it would have made more sense for the team to practice at a facility such as Planet Ice, which is what will happen now as the city is providing the team ice time at the private rink.
Delta Junior Islanders president Darcy Phillips said they learned of the move from city manager Sean McGill last Friday.
Phillips said they will be meeting with McGill to discuss the situation, adding the original memorandum of understanding signed by the city, lacrosse groups and the Giants back in 2005 had been torn up by Delta in 2012 in favour of a deal even less favourable for local dry floor groups, something that needs to be addressed.
John Burr, president of the Ladner Pioneers senior lacrosse club, said they expressed their continued frustrations to McGill last week and he assured them he would try to find a solution.
Burr also posted on Facebook his appreciation for Toigo agreeing to move the practices in order to free up the dry floor for local sports groups.
“Delta Minor Lacrosse, Delta Jr. A’s and the Ladner Pioneers would like to acknowledge and express our gratitude to Ron Toigo and the Vancouver Giants for their understanding and their willingness to move out of the South Delta Recreation Centre and allowing our young lacrosse players to start their season. We hope that we can keep a line of communication open in the future. Please know that we are excited on your playoff run to the Memorial Cup and wish you all the best,” he stated.
In 2015, Delta entered a new lease with the Giants. It was an in-camera decision by Delta council to ink a 10-year deal.
In 2005, the municipality entered into the first lease with Toigo to move his junior hockey club's training facility to the leisure centre. The Giants at the time paid approximately $1 million toward an addition to the leisure centre, which included a weight room on the top floor open to the public as well as space for the hockey team on the ground floor. The Giants also got exclusive ice time at the arena.
Delta paid for part of the expansion and the price tag to equip the new weight room, among other costs.
That original 10-year lease expired in 2015 and the current deal sees the Giants pay an annual rental fee of $25,000 for use of the training facility. The Giants also get what they had before, including the exclusive weekday ice time for practices and access to the facility for training camp and pre-season games. They also got to place signage on an exterior wall.