The Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association has put an end to a controversial fee levied on female hockey players, the Times has learned.
An email was sent Monday to parents of female hockey players stating that the CMHA board had voted not to levy the additional fee this season.
Girls on smaller-than-average teamswhich comprise most, if not all female squadshad faced an additional surcharge of either $157.50 or $183.50, depending on the player's age group. Those fees were on top of standard registration fees of between $555 and $665 dollars.
In the email sent to parents, Stacy Crowhurst, director-at-large representing female hockey, wrote: "The CMHA board has again reviewed the additional fee as shown on the registration for the 2012-2013 season. The CMHA board has voted to not charge any additional fee's this year for any C teams including the female division."
Chilliwack Minor Hockey president David Soltys declined to comment.
The fees had drawn fire from female hockey players and their parents.
Last fall, midget player Tara Callaghan withdrew from hockey instead of paying the extra fee.
"I think it's important to stand up and not pay those fees," Callaghan said at the time. "The fees are so random and you're not getting anything out of it."
And following last year's hockey season, two parents, Julia Lakey and Karen Esau, filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
Lakey and Esau are unable to talk about the case until a ruling is made. But when they spoke to the Times in July, they said the fees were both discriminatory and counterproductive for an association struggling to recruit more female players.
"We all belong to one association and it's being harped on that girls are costing the association money and therefore the only way to keep girls hockey alive is to charge them more," Lakey said at the time.
The two women had hoped the board would eliminate the fees before the complaint went through.
The tribunal is expected to issue a ruling soon, but with Lakey and Esau asking for the removal of the fees, the two parents have already achieved their main goal. (The parents also sought to have fees levied last year refunded.)
Other parents of female hockey players also welcomed the elimination of the fees.
Mark Timmons, who coaches an atom girls hockey team, said "it's about time" the board backed down.
"It's one of those things that should never have been in place," he said. "Boys and girls should be paying the same amount of money."
While his team has 12 playersa solid number for a Chilliwack girls teamTimmons noted that minor hockey associations in neighbouring municipalities are able to ice multiple squads.
"They're obviously doing something right and we're doing something wrong," he said.
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