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City Looking at Repealing Combative Sports Bylaw

Lloydminster’s combative sports bylaw is entering the ring with City Council.

At Wednesday’s Governance and Priorities Committee Meeting, City Council took a look at the bylaw that allows professional combative sporting events to happen within city limits. Amateur sports fall under a different law and wouldn’t be impacted.

The bylaw was passed in 2010 and a local commission was created. Since then, Mayor Gerald Aalbers says he doesn’t believe any professional events have taken place. As well, the commission currently has no members.

During the meeting, Councillor Ken Baker brought up an incident in Edmonton involving Tim Hague, the athlete who died after a boxing event earlier this year. This was  later brought up again by Interim City Manager Rick McDonald who said when they took a look at what was going on in Edmonton, they decided to bring this to council to have a discussion.

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“Administration felt it was something we need to look at and consider, [to] ensure that we reduce any potential liabilities within the City and that’s one that lies out there,” says Aalbers.

Garrett Tepper, the owner of The Fight Farm, says Hague’s death should not play a role in the City’s decision.

“I believe that’s a poor way of excusing yourself from a problem that needs to be addressed. This is something people need to face and make it proper, make it a safe place for these athletes to compete. Let’s see how we can avoid this in the future.”

Tepper adds, “it’s going to force organizations and athletes to go underground. I’ve already seen glimpses in Saskatchewan, in parts of B.C., where these commissions aren’t getting the support from the city. These people want to compete so they have no other platform then to go underground.”

Tepper says the City needs to take a serious look at the issue.

“They need the right people in place and that’s all it is, people that are well versed in the sport [and] understand the sport.”

“Combative sports, especially mixed martial arts is growing exponentially. I see it in the enrollment at the club but unfortunately a lot of these people can get to a certain level and then they have to go elsewhere to perform,” says Tepper.

If the repeal were to happen, combative sports could still take place in the Border City, but only on the Saskatchewan side as Saskatchewan has a provincial athletic commission, which is responsible for the regulation of combative sports. Alberta has no such commission. During the meeting, Councillor Aaron Buckingham brought up a roving commission from Lethbridge that would be able to come in. However, City Clerk Doug Rodwell says this will not exempt the City from any liability.

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“I suspect that Alberta, just based on the information that was presented today and the discussion and the information I read about Edmonton, it would be in the provincial governments best interest [to] enact some sort of act to deal with it,” says Aalbers.

No decision has been made. City Council has asked for more information to be brought forward at the next council meeting, which takes place September 11.

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