Can Saskatchewan Cities Regulate Mixed Martial Arts?

Saskatchewan MMA law

UPDATE July 30, 2013 – Saskatchewan has apparently played the trump card telling Cities they do not have the authority to regulate MMA. Please click here for details

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Keith Grienke of Top MMA News reports that the City of Weyburn Saskatchewan  “is looking at allowing Alberta’s Central Combative Sports Commission to sanction pro and amateur events in its municipalityy”.  Proposed Bylaw 2013-3275 – Combative Sports Bylaw, which seeks to give MMA a legal framework in Weyburn has passed first reading and is expected to proceed to final reading on August 19.

Assuming this Bill passes into law, is regulating combat sports within the City’s powers or would Provincial legislation be required?  Given that regulating MMA is reportedly not a “top priority” for the Province can cities step up to the plate?

Saskatchewan lacks a formal athletic commission regulating the sport either professionally or on the amateur side.  This makes the sport illegal in the Province given the default position under section 83 of the Criminal Code. However, looking just one Province to the West, Alberta also lacks Province wide regulation and has opted to regulate the sport on a municipal level.

If you look at how municipalities in Alberta have gained the ability to regulate MMA the legal landscape is really no different in Saskatchewan. As previously discussed, cities can derive the authority to regulate MMA and not run afoul of the Criminal Code so long as they get their authority “by or under the authority of the province’s legislature”.  In Alberta cities purport to derive their authority from Alberta’s Municipal Government Act, which allows bylaws to be passed respecting “safety, heath and welfare of people” and also “business activities.

In Saskatchewan, Weyburn gets its legal authority under the Cities Act.  That legislation gives Weyburn similar powers to their municipal neighbours in Alberta including the power to pass bylaws addressing

  • the peace, order and good government of the city;
  • the safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and
    property;
  • people, activities and things in, on or near a public place or place that is
    open to the public
  • businesses, business activities and persons engaged in business

If, and the if needs to be stressed, the above framework is sufficient to give cities in Alberta the ability to regulate MMA in compliance with section 83 of the Criminal Code then, as things presently stand, cities in Saskatchewan, including Weyburn, enjoy similar powers.

The only argument I can think of to the contrary is that the Saskatchewan Cities Act does not contain a provision similar to section 535 of Alberta’s Municipal Government Act.  Although this section does not expressly give Alberta municipalities the power to regulate MMA, such a power is strongly implied  under section 535(1)which limits the liability of Municipal Commissions that choose to regulate combat sports in Alberta.  Other than this minor difference Saskatchewan cities are likely on the same legal footing as their neighbors to the West if they choose to pass bylaws regulating MMA.  If this bylaw passes final reading and there is no interference from the Provincial legislature that will be a strong signal Saskatchewan MMA will likely be heading to a local government model of combat sports regulation.

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