'I've seen this inequality everywhere': Female hockey players criticize Preston Memorial Auditorium plans
KITCHENER -- It's back to the drawing board for the proposed expansion of the Preston Memorial Auditorium after a number of female athletes came forward in criticism of the plans.
Cambridge City Council saying at a meeting on Tuesday night that the plans are not good enough and fall short on gender equality.
This decision came after a passionate plea from the Cambridge Rivulettes - a women’s junior hockey organization - and a female Olympic hockey gold medalist.
The team and the professional athlete say the Rivulettes are an elite junior hockey organization but the plans proposed by the city treat them like a minor hockey team.
Players say they are done taking the back seat.
“In 2021 we honestly shouldn’t have to fight this hard just to get the same as the boys, I can speak on behalf of all women’s sports that it’s gone on for far too long,” said player Courtney Rice.
The plan laid out by city staff is to install a much needed second ice pad at the Preston Memorial Auditorium, but up for discussion is everything that comes along with it, like dressing rooms, seating and a workout space.
The Rivulettes have produced a number of national team athletes and say the city doesn't see their program for what it is.
“Cambridge is the home of one of the most established and celebrated teams in the premier development league in the world, Cambridge is the home of the jewel, I’m not sure everyone has discovered it yet,” said Rivulettes coach Geoff Haddaway.
According to the head coach, the proposal does not include an adequate dressing room or work-out space. He also points to issues with seating capacity and the lack of a media room to record games.
“The video we take will be accessed by every major university in the United States or Canada,” adds Haddaway. “If we can’t provide quality video we are further reducing the possibilities to our players.”
The team says no boy’s junior team would accept what is being offered. To help drive home the message, the Rivulettes found support in women's hockey gold medalist Jocelyne Larocque.
“You’re telling the Rivulettes and all those young road runners by your actions that, not only are girls and boys not equal, but that girls playing at a significantly higher level are still inferior to boys,” said Larocque during the virtual meeting.
She adds Cambridge Council is in a unique position to make a difference
“I’ve seen this inequality everywhere and it’s incredibly insulting and frustrating and you have an opportunity to do the right thing.”
Cambridge Council voted to defer a decision and will look into making adjustments.
Staff say some of those changes could be simple, while others - like adding more seating - would blow the $13 million budget out of the water.
"A thousand seats and the training facilities, that would take up some of the dead space as one of the delegates put it, we are looking at a $25 million facility,” said consultant Scott Robinson.
Coun. Jan Ligett said she didn't realize there was a gender equity issue until the team brought it up.
"How do you put a dollar value on equity, how do we say 'Young women, I'm sorry but you're not worth this extra money?'" Ligett said.
Staff say it will take six to eight weeks to come back with new plans at which time council can make a decision.