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WHEREAS there is public interest in the operation of, attendance at and participation in combative sports events in Alberta; and
WHEREAS section 535.1 of the Municipal Government Act contemplates the establishment of a commission by bylaw for the sanctioning of combative sports; and
WHEREAS several communities in Alberta have established commissions; and
WHEREAS there appears to be little coordination or consistency amongst the existing commissions throughout Alberta; and
WHEREAS there are inherent risks to the operation and regulation of combative sports events that warrant a more detailed and coordinated approach; and
WHEREAS the regulation and sanctioning of combative sports is not a core local government function or service; and
WHEREAS other provinces in Canada have created commissions at the provincial level;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the provincial government to create a provincial commission to sanction combative sports events throughout the Province of Alberta.
Council for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has received requests and statements of interest from the public, expressing desire to hold and attend combative sports events, such as mixed martial arts events. In response, municipal administration undertook significant research of this matter and notes that Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories all have a provincial/territorial sanctioning body in place. New Brunswick and Alberta have no provincial legislation in place, but do delegate authority to municipalities.
Alberta’s Municipal Government Act (MGA), specifically section 535.1, makes some provision for the establishment of a municipal combative sports commission through bylaw. At the present time, there are combative sports commissions in Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Cold Lake and Penhold. The bylaws in place vary significantly from one municipality to another, which means that there is no coordination or consistency in the regulation of events throughout the province.
Despite the creation of commissions in several Alberta communities, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has concerns that there appears to be ongoing risk and compliance challenges to commission operations. There also appears to be little coordination or consistency amongst the existing commissions, including how information should be shared, standards on how drug testing should be undertaken, or if there should be communication amongst the commissions regarding participants who have been banned or suspended.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo does not regulate or sanction any other sports and has no internal expertise in this area. It also does not consider the regulation and sanctioning of these types of events as a core local government function or service.
The creation of a provincial commission is preferred in order to ensure standardized rules and procedures reflecting best practices are implemented consistently throughout Alberta on all matters concerning combative sports events, and specifically with respect to testing and participant suspensions.
A resolution of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties supporting the creation of a provincial commission to sanction combative sports events throughout the Province of Alberta is critical to ensuring consistency and coordination of the regulation of events in Alberta.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Municipal Affairs: The Municipal Government Act (MGA) contemplates the establishment of a municipal commission by bylaw for the sanctioning of combative sports, should the local council deem this appropriate. Section 535.1 of the MGA protects a sporting commission established by bylaw from liability in the performance of its functions. Any proposal by stakeholders to amend these provisions could be submitted in the course of the current MGA review. The possible regulation and sanctioning of combative sports at the provincial level falls outside the mandate of Municipal Affairs.
Tourism, Parks and Recreation: Alberta delegates, through a bylaw provision, the authority for sanctioning combative sports to municipal governments, as defined under Section 535.1 of the MGA.
Legitimate combative sports will typically have provincial, national and international organizations that define, develop and monitor their own training, coaching and competition standards. Recent changes to the Criminal Code of Canada regarding combative sports, through Bill S?209 (assented on June 19, 2013), has expanded the list of permitted sports under prize fighting provisions. It is important for decisions around these types of competitions to be made at the local level where resources (medical, police, security, and facilities) are locally managed and impacted.
Currently, there are five provinces with provincial commissions established, a few exploring the establishment of provincial commissions, and two (Alberta and New Brunswick) that delegate this authority to municipalities. At the present time, there are combative sports commissions in the following seven Alberta communities: Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Cold Lake and Penhold.
There are no immediate indications that creating a provincial commission would be more effective at addressing the issues identified by the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.
As the provincial government response provides no indication that this resolution will be met, the resolution is assigned the status of Intent Not Met. This resolution was also carried at the AUMA’s 2013 Convention and advocacy efforts have continued by both associations to address the intent outlined.