Frustration is felt in the lacrosse community after the last-minute cancellation of the Peterborough Lakers Classic lacrosse tournament, which was due to take place this weekend.
With more than 900 players from 53 teams across the province set to descend on the area, city officials made the last-minute decision to cancel the tournament, leaving many shocked.
Crews were traveling from as far away as Ottawa, London and Kitchener, with some crews already on their way to Peterborough when the city announced the decision on Friday morning to allow hundreds of out-of-town utility workers to retain their hotel rooms as they continue to restore power to the area from last Saturday’s storm.
The city announced the cancellation around 9 a.m. Friday to ease pressure on hotels by revoking tournament facility permits for the Memorial Center, Kinsmen Civic Center and Healthy Planet Arena.
The Peterborough Minor Lacrosse Association hosts the tournament annually at city arenas for teams in the youth tyke, novice, peewee, bantam, and midget divisions.
It was scheduled to start Friday and end Sunday with championship games at the Memorial Center.
It is the third year in a row that the tournament has had to be canceled after COVID-19 restrictions also forced cancellations in 2020 and 2021.
According to the city, efforts have been made to coordinate the availability of hotel rooms, but it has not been possible to reserve enough rooms to guarantee space for electric utility workers who are helping with the efforts. emergency response.
The decision came after the city’s emergency control group was told that some of the out-of-town utility workers could lose their hotel accommodations due to the number of rooms needed to accommodate workers. lacrosse players and their families.
The city expressed regret over the premature cancellation of the event, but said restoring power to all residents and businesses remained of the utmost importance.
It’s just frustrating that no one has come to this conclusion sooner, said John Pacey, president of the Peterborough Minor Lacrosse Association.
“Our frustration is with the timing, and not knowing that at the last minute made it difficult, we have a lot of teams angry with us for not knowing that,” Pacey told The Examiner.
The association does not dispute the reasons for its cancellation, but is concerned about the lack of notice, preferring to be notified as soon as possible rather than at the last moment.
“It was a bit of a panic on our part because at 2:30 yesterday we were told the tournament was going on and then they reversed this morning on us,” Pacey said.
Panicked, Pacey said, he requested a meeting with the city due to the lack of involvement in the decision-making process leading to the result.
Due to the late notice, teams had to be contacted when they were already on the road.
“They were able to get their crews off the road to wait until we could get confirmation,” Pacey said.
“We understand why, we understand that hydropower workers are a priority, accommodations had to be made for them.
With approximately 600 utility workers, including out-of-town crews from as far away as Alabama and Philadelphia, still needing several days to complete repairs, the tournament was canceled to accommodate them and give them time to complete infrastructure repairs.
Sachin Aurora, general manager, Quality Inn Peterborough at 1074 Lansdowne St. W., said the decision left them with a nearly empty hotel and trying to call people to cancel their reservations or call them to tell them to come back was stressful for the staff. .
“This leaves us in a very difficult situation because we were only notified on the day and therefore could not prepare to subsidize the tax system,” Aurora said.
“We’re sitting with a hotel that should be full but isn’t. It was frustrating because Lacrosse was something we looked forward to and it leaves us stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Aurora doesn’t blame hydroelectric workers who must continue restoration efforts, but blames the city for its lack of planning and for not announcing the cancellation earlier in the week.
“We totally support having electrical workers in our hotel,” Aurora said, but if we had a larger facility, we would have made housing everyone a priority.
“It’s just from a company that’s been struggling for two years. It’s very difficult to make a consistent stream of income while trying to please everyone.
As of Friday morning, around 4,337 Hydro One customers in the city of Peterborough and around 11,500 in Peterborough County were still without power. The storm also knocked out power in southern Ontario, so out-of-town crews were brought in to expedite restoration. Hydro One was aiming to restore power to 99 per cent of affected customers by Friday evening, but a few may have to wait until Saturday or longer.