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Campbell River Storm parents ask for resolution in Strathcona Gardens labour dispute

Strike is latest disruption in recent years, but one that can be “controlled” — parent
The Campbell River Storm have only had three games at their home rink this year. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River Mirror

Parents of Campbell River Storm hockey players are asking for an end to the Strathcona Gardens strike so their kids can salvage whatever’s left of the hockey season.

Earlier this week, a group of parents sent a letter to the Strathcona Regional District asking for all parties to come to the table and find a resolution to the ongoing labour dispute at the recreation centre. The workers have been on strike beginning in November Since then little progress has been made towards reaching a resolution. While both sides do agree that mediation is needed, how to get there seems to be a sticking point.

RELATED: SRD ready for mediation, only if union commits to binding arbitration

To Kerri Lynn Gudz, a parent of one of the Storm players, however, the strike is an “adult problem and the kids are essentially collateral damage.”

“For these kids, this is the third hockey season that has been disrupted. Now this is an added issue. We’re still having to work around cancellations due to COVID, which everybody is, but now we’re adding this extra dimension to it. They did also have weather cancellations too. This is one that can be controlled,” she said.

Since the strike began, Storm players have had to practice in neighbouring communities like Comox and have hosted their home games in Gold River and Comox. However, their practice schedule is now subject to ice availability in other communities, and parents are worried about their novice-driver kids driving hundreds of kilometres per week for hockey practice.

“Practices are irregular, depending on ice availability in Comox. There’s the added safety considerations now about young adults and novice drivers—some who don’t even drive—travelling to and from practice. There’s the safety consideration and never mind the added expense and wear and tear,” she said. “Families are absorbing the additional cost of the travel by vehicle. The reality is that there is a profound safety consideration when you’re talking about novice drivers. That was proven earlier this year.”

In early January, an 18-year-old Peninsula Panthers player was killed in a car crash in Sooke while he was on the way to a practice.

RELATED: Greater Victoria hockey community in mourning after Panther player dies in crash

Despite the challenges facing the players, Gudz said the players were still completely committed to the team.

“This is a team that has been built on and worked towards being in a position that is significantly hampered now, through no fault of their own,” she said. “They have a real chance at winning a league record for most wins in a season, a league championship, and ideally a provincial championship. That’s what they have worked and committed to.”

According to the letter, Storm coaching staff offered the players the chance to play for other teams in order to salvage the season. None of the players took that chance.

“They were given an out at Christmas,” Gudz said. “That’s pretty remarkable for a group of kids who are chasing their dreams to choose that team with so many unknowns. “

“These are kids who love it,” Gudz said. “I realize it’s from a place of privilege for sure. These are young adults and late teens who have sacrificed and given a lot. They’re still doing it. At what point do we as adults show them thank you for that and that it’s valued? That speaks to what we honour and want for kids: the value of teamwork. That is big. That speaks to some character right there. I guess we ask the same.

“Our intention is not taking sides in this. Our intention is to get our kids back on the ice and for this to be solved respectfully, openly and collaboratively.”


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