It is almost an unspoken acknowledgment among Canadians that a sheet of frozen ice is prime for a game of good old fashioned shinny. However, at Harmony Square, this belief is no more.
Due to numerous complaints from residents in the apartment buildings surrounding the downtown courtyard and ice rink, Brantford Police have begun to put the kibosh on hockey games that often break out there at night.
Lori-Dawn Cavin, Brantford Park & Recreation’s Community Events Coordinator, says that though many think this is a new law, hockey at Harmony Square has never been legal.
Cavin says that according to Brantford bylaws all Brantford parks close at 10 p.m.
Over the years, it has become a common assumption that after the workers leave at 10, the ice rink at Harmony Square is available for hockey. As Cavin notes, however, that rink was never designed for hockey in the first place.
“If you really have a good look at that rink, you’ll realize that rink was never designed for safe hockey play,” Cavin said. “It’s got the big brick columns, and it’s got the concrete, there’s serious risk down there.”
Of course, there has been a long history of young Brantford residents and Laurier Brantford students making their way down to the ice at night for a game of hockey without any real problems, but what has changed this year is an increase of complaints from Harmony Square residents.
Cavin said that residents in those buildings have been making calls to the police regarding the noise that comes from hockey, such as pucks hitting the wooden benches used as nets and sticks slamming the ice, which on some nights continued until four in the morning.
“Just so you know, it’s not about kids fighting, it’s not about excessive swearing, it’s not any of those issues, because really they’re playing hockey,” Cavin said. “But it’s all based on the noise complaints from the residents in the area, and that’s why the signs are now posted and we’re having to enforce it.”
After ten, the Parks & Recreation by-law is no longer enforced by city employees and therefore is in the hands of the police in determining what course of action, if any, to take when it comes to people playing hockey.
And should police choose to take action, the consequences could be expensive. Brantford Police say that violating the by-law of being in a park after 10 p.m. could result in a $100 fine, while engaging in a prohibited activity while trespassing could land students a $65 fine. The worst, however, should be if the players are charged with violating the noise by-law, which results in a $375 ticket, per person.
Nolan Kreis, a fourth-year student who has enjoyed the rink over his university career, says he is sympathetic for the residents of Harmony Square but feels they should realize that when living in a downtown apartment there may be some noise.
“I know people that live in the Harmony Square buildings are complaining about noise but they live in the downtown, they are going to hear noise regardless if we play hockey there,” Kreis said. “At least when they hear noise they know it’s just some people playing hockey and not a fight or something. They don’t complain when the jazz festival is there, why complain when we’re just playing Canada’s game?”
“The bottom line is that there are people who reside down there and we’re just asking people to utilize it as the city intended it to be utilized, and to be respectful of those who reside or work in the area,” Inspector Kent Potruff said. “People yelling and hooting and hollering at late hours certainly disturbs people.”