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Port Coquitlam home sports games back on after referee change room added to new rec centre

Port Coquitlam sports teams will be able to play home games at the city’s new community centre after all, now that a change room will be provided to referees and linesmen.

The first phase of the multi-million-dollar Port Coquitlam Community Centre opened last week without any separate change rooms for officials, which are required under Hockey Canada rules — potentially dooming the start of the season for hundreds of local athletes.

On Friday, the city announced it will allow referees and other officials to use one of the eight team dressing rooms built for the centre’s two new arenas, which opened last week.

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“We’re happy to have found a solution that works for everyone, in partnership with the hockey community,” Mayor Brad West said in a statement.

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“We worked hard on getting the two arenas open for hockey season and when we heard the concerns, we took immediate action to address them.”

The $132-million rec centre has been under construction since 2017. Its first phase is set to be fully opened between later this year and early 2020, with the unveiling of a pool and fitness centre.

The second and final phase, to be completed in 2021, will add a third ice rink, a gymnasium and outdoor courts along with other amenities.

That phase will also bring four dedicated change rooms for officials near the lobby, allowing access to all three arenas, the city said Friday.

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READ MORE: New PoCo rec centre opens without change rooms for referees, dooming home hockey season

Under Hockey Canada’s own rules, officials must have a separate dressing room that must be “equipped with a sanitary toilet and shower.”

The Port Coquitlam Minor Hockey Association (PCMHA) said last weekend it was concerned officials would only have small spaces equivalent to change rooms in clothing stores to use for changing, with no separate toilets or showers and without locks.

The association said it had heard from referees that, until the situation was addressed, they would be refusing to officiate games at the new arenas.

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The solution announced Friday came after a meeting between the city and local sports groups on Thursday night.

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While the one team dressing room is used by officials, an alternate “dry” space without dedicated showers and toilets will be used by teams “as needed,” the city said.

BC Hockey said it was satisfied with the solution and would allow home games to proceed at the rec centre.

“Sometimes issues come up during construction, and we thank everyone for their patience,” said West.

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PCMHA president Kim Egli told Global News she was satisfied the city reacted quickly to the issue, and praised West and members of council for their swift action.

“It’s not the perfect solution, but of course it works for everyone and works for us, so I’m happy with the agreement,” she said.

“It wasn’t [the mayor and council] who designed the building or said they would be OK with these plans with no referee rooms,” she added. “They were willing to do everything they could to make sure no kids miss any games this season.”
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Minor hockey teams are set to hit the ice this week, along with other sports groups including ringette and lacrosse.

— With files from Nadia Stewart

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