While British Columbia has a Province wide Athletic Commission with monopoly powers to oversee and regulate MMA, BC’s legal framework gives individual cities a choice allowing them to outright ban certain combat sports. Specifically, section 59(f)(1) of BC’s Community Charter allows the passage of City bylaws that “prohibit professional boxing, professional wrestling and other professional athletic contests“. It appears the City of Vernon is prepared to exercise these powers to ban MMA.
Recently, Vernon accepted the fate that Bill 50 stripped their local commission of powers and adopted Bylaw 4954 which repealed their Athletic Commission. The City is now reportedly going further and looking to outright ban MMA.
Infotel.ca reports that “ City council is moving forward with the creation of a bylaw that would ban Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events within municipal limits.” Apparently the law has yet to be drafted however Infotel reports that “Council directed staff to prepare a draft bylaw for consideration.”.
If properly drafted the City appears to be within their rights to ban MMA. Interestingly the language of BC’s Community Charter seems to limit the City’s power to only ban professional combat sports, amateur combat sports appear immune from the City’s powers.
Update June 10, 2014 – The minutes of the City Council meeting have been released addressing this development. They give little detail but provide as follows:
THAT Council brings forward, as public information, the following
motions declassified from confidential to non-confidential at the May 26,
2014, In Camera meeting:
‘THAT Council direct Administration to draft a bylaw or bylaws for
Council consideration which will prohibit professional and amateur
Mixed Martial Arts events within municipal limits.’
Interestingly, this reveals that the City is looking to ban amateur MMA as well, a move that appears ultra vires (beyond the powers granted to them) under s. 59(f)(1) of the Community Charter.