All the kids want is a place to play.
That’s the message from leaders at the Penticton Minor Lacrosse Association, who have launched a petition to garner public support for future renovations to the lacrosse box/street hockey area by Skaha Lake Park.
Kate Trahan, a development coordinator at the association, started the petition Monday, April 13, amid limited availability of practice and game facilities for indoor lacrosse players across Penticton.
She says local teams have been forced to relocate their home games to places like Kelowna and Vernon this season. One of the association’s home tournaments this year won’t even be played in Penticton, but rather in Summerland.
A lack of dry floor space and growing scheduling conflicts city-wide are impacting 145 local indoor lacrosse players, Trahan said.
“We don’t get to just play at home where grandparents, cousins, family and friends can come and watch support the kids,” she explained.
Upgrades to the area by Skaha Lake would include the installation of a roof, bleachers and penalty boxes. The association would then be able to hold games, practices and tournaments for indoor lacrosse players for at least 10 months of the year, Trahan added.
“We don’t have floor space to grow as an association,” she said.
The association says that Memorial Arena, the long-standing home for minor Penticton lacrosse teams, is only available for a limited time of the indoor-lacrosse season. Trahan says box lacrosse teams have instead been asked to play inside the Okanagan Hockey Training Centre (OHTC).
City officials told the Western News that Memorial Arena has been converted to dry floor for the season and has been open for the sport since April 3.
“Due to much-needed plant maintenance at OHTC and SOEC, ice will be installed at Memorial in June, a few weeks earlier than usual, to ensure we have one ice surface available to serve the area,” said Shane Mills, the city’s senior communications advisor, wrote in an email. “Arrangements have been made to accommodate lacrosse at OHTC so there is no loss of dry floor time.”
The area in question for renovations is located in the vicinity of the Skaha Lake Park parking lot, basketball courts and Vallarta Grill.
Trahan has requested to appear before Penticton city council on May 2, to ask local politicians for approval in upgrading the area.
“We have a lot of parents that want to see this change,” Trahan said. “We get it, hockey makes a ton of money for the city but there are other sports that need a fair shake.”
The city says although a request has been made, Trahan’s appearance before council has not yet been confirmed.
As of Tuesday, April 11, at 4:30 p.m., more than 300 people have signed the online petition.
It’s been less than 48 hours since the petition was launched, but community support hasn’t stopped there.
Trahan says local contractors have already expressed interest in coming together to work on the renovations, free of charge, barring the funds are there to move forward with the plan.
“It all depends on what the city says first before doing anything. We can’t fundraise for something and not have the city on our side,” she said.
“There’s a ton of other dry-floor sports that could also use the newly developed area, like ringette.”
The petition calls for the city to support the initiative and help make the renovations a reality.