Adult male shinny groups and players in the competitive Greater Toronto Hockey League will be moved out of publicly owned city arenas or pushed to different time slots to accommodate the growing number of girls in the game.

“They need to accept that they are less of a priority for public arenas than girls, and I don’t think anyone can quarrel with that,” Mayor David Miller, a former midnight shinny player, said yesterday.

“Adult men and the Greater Toronto Hockey League … have to take a back seat to girls, that’s our (equity) policy.”

Miller’s comments followed yesterday’s Toronto Star story about the Leaside Girls Hockey Association’s Oct. 30 letter to him, which threatened to launch a human rights complaint over what the 900-member league alleges is the city’s failure to enforce its equity policy at city arenas.

The league claims municipal facilities shut girls out of prime-time ice and in some cases, rent it to adult men for hockey.

GTHL president John Gardner called Miller’s stand on pushing boys off public ice “hypocritical” because the expanding girls’ game has already squeezed boys’ permit times.

“If you’ve got to get what you want by taking away from other kids, I don’t see what that accomplishes,” Gardner said, “and any politician who subscribes to that ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

The GTHL’s 40,000 players will use municipal ice for close to 30 per cent of league games this season — down from 40 per cent in recent years. Gardner said forcing GTHL players into private arenas, where rates can top $300 an hour, will drive up the price of the game for families.

But skating on expensive private ice is at the core of Toronto Leaside’s argument.

Ron Baker, president of the girls’ hockey association, said his non-profit league has spent more than $1 million over the past five years at private arenas, largely because city-owned facilities in players’ neighbourhoods regularly refuse to give the association ice permits that Baker insists it is entitled to.

Regardless of gender, priority at city rinks is supposed to be given first to youth recreational hockey (house leagues), then to youth competitive hockey, and then to adult players.

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