After hearing from Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association president and a coach, city council rescinded the no-spectator policy for hockey that was implemented last Friday.
Council agreed the mask policy should remain in place, that spectators be allowed and that members of council would meet with WLMHA and staff on Thursday to work out the details.
Rispin told council when the mask policy was announced Thursday he didn’t have a problem with it, but the issue of no spectators ‘slapped’ the organization hard.
“We hadn’t even been given a chance to make the masks work,” Rispin said. “I am asking that this be solved before we get to another weekend.”
Rispin said he believes his fans, parents, spectators and association as a whole can deal with masks, but doesn’t want to see spectators removed.
“I think it’s too important for our community, too important for our parents and too important for our kids,” he said. “I really don’t want to see this continue.”
Coun. Sheila Boehm put forward the resolution that the no spectator policy be rescinded, which was seconded by Coun. Scott Nelson.
All of council voted in favour of rescinding, except for Mayor Walt Cobb who said he would have rather waited until council had met with City staff and WLMHA on Thursday.
During the meeting the City’s director of community services Ian James, appearing by phone, said over the next few days officials at BC Recreation and Parks Association, viaSport, BC Hockey and the Recreation Facilities of B.C. will be meeting to revisit the guidelines and recommendations for sports teams and arenas.
Representatives from Williams Lake Minor Hockey (WLMHA) are on the agenda to speak to city council Tuesday evening, Oct. 20, 2020, regarding their concerns surrounding spectators not being allowed in the arena.
Ryan Hatt and Mike Rispin are appearing as a delegation to speak on behalf of the WLMHA.
“I think we should have the opportunity to make a mask requirement work,” Rispin told the Tribune, regarding his thoughts around a policy change at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex Friday, Oct. 16 in which spectators are no longer allowed at the rinks. “My (hockey) parents and the majority of my volunteers have bent over backwards to make this work. I feel like we had been doing this for months, trying to make this work, listening to what they’re asking us to do, then all of the sudden it changed.”
WLMHA sent out an email Monday evening and Tuesday encouraging members to show their support for WLMHA by gathering outside city hall with face masks on.
Mayor Walt Cobb said he’s heard from residents voicing their disagreement with the no spectator decision, as well as concerns around Lower Mainland hockey teams playing in Williams Lake.
Cobb said he would like to hear the concerns of the presenters, and hopes they can find a solution everyone can live with while still sticking to COVID-19 protocols.
“I don’t want a COVID outbreak. We have to be cautious,” said Cobb. “I don’t know all the answers. We have to take direction from the people who know about these things.”
Cobb said as a community “we’ve been lucky so far” regarding COVID-19, adding he’s heard from representatives from several other communities who are not allowing spectators in their arenas.
“They are all getting the same pressure we are getting to allow spectators.”
To view the meeting, check out this link.