Recently I canvassed the City of Vernon, BC’s, plans to ban MMA competitions from the City’s borders. The first draft of the proposed law sought to ban both professional and amateur MMA events. The proposed ban on amateur MMA is legally problematic and arguably outside of the scope of the City’s powers.
Vernon now appears alive to this concern and they are considering a new version of the proposed ban which will only prohibit professional contests. Below is the City’s reasons addressing the reasons why the first version is problematic;
And here is the wording of the alternative version of the proposed MMA Ban:
WHEREAS section 59(1 )(f) of the Community Charter authorizes Council to prohibit
professional boxing, professional wrestling and other professional athletic contests;
AND WHEREAS section 8(3)(i) of the Community Charter authorizes Council to prohibit
activities in relation to public health;
AND WHEREAS under section 2(1 )(a) of the Private Health Bylaws Regulation (B.C. Reg.
42/2004) a bylaw in relation to the protection, promotion or preservation of the health of
individuals must be deposited with the Minister of Health;
AND WHEREAS section 8(6) of the Community Charter authorizes Council to control,
inspect, limit and restrict business, including by establishing rules respecting what must
be done in relation to the business and business activities;
AND WHEREAS section 59(2) of the Community Charter provides that before adopting
a bylaw under section 8(6) or 59(1 ), Council must give notice of its intention as Council
considers reasonable, and provide an opportunity for persons who consider they are
affected by the bylaw to make representations to Council;
NOW THEREFORE the Council of the Corporation of the City of Vernon in open meeting
enacts as follows:
1. This bylaw shall be cited for all purposes as “City of Vernon Mixed Martial Arts
Bylaw Number 5505, 2014″.
2. In this bylaw,
(a) “business” means carrying on a commercial activity or undertaking of any kind
or providing a service for the purpose of profit or gain;
(b) “contest” includes an exhibition;
(c) “matchmaker” means a person who arranges contests between particular
athletes for a mixed martial arts contest;
(d) “mixed martial arts” means unarmed combat between two or more persons
involving the use of a combination of techniques from other martial arts, including,
without limitation, grappling, kicking, striking and holding;
(e) “promoter” means a person who carries on a business in relation to mixed
(f) “second” means a person who assists an athlete between rounds in the course
of a mixed martial arts contest or exhibition.
Mixed Martial Arts
3. No person may engage as a contestant in a professional mixed martial arts
4. Without limiting section 3 or other forms of athletic contest, no person may engage
as a contestant in a professional mixed martial arts contest if the contest is or
relates to a business or business activity.
5. Without limiting sections 3 or 4, or other forms of athletic contest, no person may
act as a promoter, matchmaker or second in a mixed martial arts contest if-the
contest is or relates to a business or business activity.
6. Nothing in sections 3 through 5 regulates an amateur mixed martial arts contest or
exhibition held by or in relation to the business of a mixed martial arts training
studio or trainer holding a valid and subsisting business license.
Offences and Fines
7. (a) Every person who contravenes, suffers or permits any act or thing to be done
in contravention of, or neglects to do or refrains from doing anything required to be
done pursuant to any provision of this bylaw or any notice issued pursuant to this
bylaw, commits an offence punishable on summary conviction, and shall be liable
to a fine not exceeding the sum of $10,000.00.
(b) Where an offence is a continuing offence, each day that the offence IS
continued shall constitute a separate and distinct offence.
8. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provisions of this bylaw shall not affect the
validity or enforceability of any other provision of this bylaw, which shall remain in
full force and effect.
It is, at this stage, unclear which version of the law will be voted on although it appears they are leaning towards the legally problematic first draft. I will continue to report on this matter as further details unfold.