OLDS — Inflation is making things as challenging for the Olds Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) as it is for other organizations.
OMHA president Rob Turville and past-president Rich McDonald say there’s little the organization can do about that except anticipate increased costs and try to minimize them for parents or guardians when they enroll kids for the upcoming season.
"I think it’s definitely a barrier. I think it’s like anything else right now. The price of everything seems to be skyrocketing,” Turville said during an interview.
"I think you definitely notice it in hockey when it comes to travelling. Each time you play a road game, you’re hopping in the vehicle and throwing gas in the vehicle and you’re stopping and grabbing food and obviously that hits the pocketbook when all those prices are rising.”
He said OMHA officials offer parents and guardians a way to pay off their fees by helping out the association in various ways, such as working shifts in the concession booth.
“In turn, that brings in some money for the organization, which in turn helps us keep our registration costs lower,” he said.
Turville said the OMHA held a raffle this past season and that helped bring in extra income to defray expenses.
McDonald said OMHA officials keep close tabs on projected costs for ice time, jerseys, and other items in order to keep cost increases as low as possible.
"I think you just have to be fiscally responsible every year and when we sit down and prepare a budget and we have registration fee meetings before the season begins,” Turville said.
“You’ve kind of got to sit down and look at, ‘OK, where are our ice costs going to be this year? How much are referee costs going to be? How much are we going to need to spend on jerseys?
“You kind of lay it out and pretty much set a template of what you think it’s going to cost each member in order for the organization to keep above water.”
McDonald said the OMHA has a “good working relationship” with the Town of Olds and that has helped.
He noted that OMHA is one of the major users of the Sportsplex.
“Our ice costs in town here are fairly reasonable, compared to some other facilities in other facilities in other communities,” he said.
“We do run short on ice. With the amount of teams that we have, we do have to sometimes book practices in Bowden or Didsbury or Trochu, wherever we can get it.
“But yeah, I would say the Town – I don’t know if they help us out in that regard by giving us a bit of a discount, but I think that their rates are fairly reasonable for us for sure.”
OMHA officials are aware of a recommendation provided to Olds town council last November that eventually a multipurpose recreational facility should be created in Olds or other nearby communities to provide extra recreational space.
Every year, it seems, a few kids from outlying communities are registered in the OMHA and in turn, some teams are looking outside Olds in nearby communities for ice time.
Turville said he believes it’s inevitable that sooner or later such a facility will be needed, given those factors.
However, he doesn’t think it’s needed immediately.
“I think we’re a couple of years away from being in dire need of another ice surface in town,” he said.