Professional fighting events may come to Fort St. John after City Council approved a motion that could pave the way for a municipal bylaw regulating the events.
The motion states that City staff will investigate the possibility of setting up an athletic council. The athletic council would then be responsible for organizing professional fighting events, such as Mixed Martial Arts, in the city.
Through the investigation, staff is expected to determine whether residents would support having professional fighting events in the community, as well as find out what the Municipal Insurance Association’s position is on the City allowing these events.
In B.C., the provincial government has given the decision-making power regarding regulating professional fighting to municipalities. However, provincial guidelines stipulate that a municipality must have at least three community members to sit on the appointed council.
Dawson Creek is one municipality which currently has a bylaw in place regarding an athletic commission. Its city council had implemented the bylaw in 2007, however, the city had problems finding a sufficient number of community members to sit on the commission. It eventually had to use the athletic commission from Prince George to come to an agreement for its upcoming MMA event. The first event being held in the city will be at the Encana Events Centre on April 29.
Councillor Dan Davies says he believes bringing these types of professional fighting events to Fort St. John would be economically beneficial. Davies also stresses that these events are highly regulated and controlled, with the organizations having their own insurance and medical professionals.
However, with the popularity of many of these types of professional fighting events, unsanctioned imitation of matches can be a problem and one which local RCMP have already had to deal with. In September 2010, police and North Peace Secondary School officials had to deal with group fights occurring near school property and during school hours.
At the time, RCMP officials said that the fights appeared to be organized and pre-planned, with the individuals involved wearing MMA-style fighting gloves. At least some students were identified participating in the fights and also had to be dealt with by the school.