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West Van hockey academy won't be moving to Seycove for 2020-21 season

Elite program formerly run out of Sentinel Secondary currently without a home

A controversial proposal to move an elite hockey academy to North Vancouver’s Seycove Secondary has been put on ice for now.

In a letter sent to Seycove area parents, North Vancouver school superintendent Mark Pearmain wrote that since a proper consultation process on the hockey academy can’t take place with COVID-19 restrictions in place, the school district has opted to suspend its decision.

“This means there will be no elite hockey academy at Seycove Secondary School for the 2020/2021 school year,” wrote Pearmain.

He added the school district plans to restart consultation on the hockey academy in the fall of this year.

The program would have added 76 elite hockey players aged 13 to 17 to the school’s current enrolment of 521.

Spartan Sports Group has been running the West Van Warriors elite hockey academy – which combines academics with intensive training and competition in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League – out of Sentinel Secondary in West Vancouver. But following a decision by the West Vancouver school district not to renew its contract with the hockey academy, North Vancouver school trustees had endorsed a plan to take on the elite hockey academy “in principle” at Seycove.

Soon after, parents showed up in force to both a parent advisory council meeting at Seycove and a school board meeting to voice concerns about the prospect of the academy moving to their school.

Parents worried that the number of out-of-district students in the 76-member hockey academy would overwhelm the small school and raised questions about problems which led to the West Vancouver school district opting not to renew the hockey academy.

Others questioned why the school district was keen to take on the program, given the narrow scope of who is admitted into the academy, the cost of the program and the fact girls can’t take part.

News that the academy decision is being halted has been met with relief by many Seycove parents, said Tree Cleland, one of the parents opposed to the hockey academy coming to that school.

Cleland added she hopes in the interim, the hockey academy will find a school better suited to it. “This is not a good fit for Seycove,” she said.

Nathan Fischer, the director of the hockey academy, said in an emailed statement to the News that he understands and respects the school district’s plan to delay its decision in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

In a letter to West Van Warrior families, however, Fischer said the decision effectively means the hockey academy won’t be able to run next year, due to a regulatory requirement that the academy have a partnership with an educational institution. The academy's teams were in the midst of successful seasons in the CSSHL when the COVID-19 crisis hit, and last week academy star Connor Bedard became the first player ever granted exceptional status and early entry into the Western Hockey League. 

In his letter to parents, Pearmain noted the school district received 730 survey responses, 345 responses through an online portal and 70 letters about the hockey academy.