City of Montreal | Minor hockey briefly banned from arenas

City of Montreal | Minor hockey briefly banned from arenas
City of Montreal | Minor hockey briefly banned from arenas

Montreal briefly closed the doors of its arenas to the organization that manages minor hockey in the metropolis at the beginning of May, in the wake of allegations that municipal ice had been used to generate profits.


Posted at 1:25 a.m.

Updated at 5:00 a.m.

In an official letter, the City announced on May 8 to Hockey Québec Région de Montréal (HQRM) that it was suspending the agreement between them, “until the City has obtained clarifications to its satisfaction regarding the use” of its ice rinks. Thousands of hours of ice are offered at a discount each year at HQRM.

According to Radio-Canada, young hockey players from HQRM had to pay $30 to $40 per hour in cash for development courses using municipal rinks without authorization. It was a former general manager named Carl Vaillancourt – since fired – who allegedly sounded the alarm.

A copy of the City’s letter was filed at the Montreal courthouse because HQRM went to court to regain access to the arenas. Time was running out, the organization argued on May 10: “the selection camps for Hockey Montréal Élite AAA teams for the 2024-2025 season are currently underway,” argued the request for an injunction. “A cancellation of the AAA selection camps will have an impact on the evaluation of players and the formation of teams. »

The organization said in particular that it feared protests from parents whose children were removed following an aborted selection camp.

HQRM finally announced a temporary agreement with Montreal last Monday. Agreement “under which the selection camps for Hockey Montréal Élite AAA teams for the 2024-2025 season will continue according to schedule,” said the organization. The Saint-Michel and Sylvio-Mantha arenas are particularly affected.

“Sound management of public funds”

However, this agreement does not mark the end of the disagreement between the City and Montreal minor hockey.

The head of sports within the Plante administration, Caroline Bourgeois, refused the interview request from The Press.

“The City of Montreal has the responsibility to ensure the sound management of public funds granted to sports organizations,” his office indicated in writing. “Verifications are underway and an agreement has been ratified to avoid loss of ice time for young people. »

Yves Pauzé, the big boss of HQRM, did not grant us an interview either. However, he sent The Press a copy of a declaration from the board of directors over which he chairs.

“HQRM maintains its desire to obtain the conclusions and recommendations of an independent investigation relating to the use of the City’s ice hours for summer development camps, as quickly as possible,” indicates the text. The City would also conduct its own investigation.

In the process, however, the CA announced that it had terminated its contract with the firm responsible since last March for carrying out an internal investigation. According to the statement, work was moving too slowly. A lawyer from Norton Rose Fulbright Canada will have to return to work.

“Absolute confidentiality”

The CA statement ensures that HQRM operates “in total transparency”.

The internal correspondence made public as part of the injunction request, however, reveals that HQRM insisted at length on the confidentiality obligations of the firm responsible for the investigation. In particular, confidentiality agreements were required from all employees involved.

“We emphasize the importance of maintaining the absolute confidentiality of all information collected during this investigation,” underlines HQRM in a correspondence dated May 8. “Highly confidential and sensitive information has been provided to you and may be provided within the framework of your Mandate. »

HQRM even ordered the investigative firm to limit its communications to a single board member “to the exclusion of anyone else.” A replacement was planned, but only “in the event of [l’]inability to act [du premier interlocuteur] for a minimum period of 3 days. “We are verifying whether such an obligation was always respected and hope that this was the case,” warns HQRM.

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