Mixed martial arts ban in Vernon on hold

City councillor express concerns that bylaw could prevent youth events

Vernon officials are reconsidering whether mixed martial arts competitions should be banned.

On Monday, council deferred three readings on a bylaw that  would prohibit professional and amateur mixed martial arts events within municipal limits.

“It was too all encompassing,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe of the concern the ban would prevent young students from local mixed martial arts schools from participating in tourmaments.

“They have inter-community competitions and we have to make sure we’re not making it impossible to have those competitions.”

Coun. Bob Spiers says the goal of the bylaw was always professional MMA events, and the rules, as is, could be misinterpreted.

“We might ban local gyms from having a contest. We want to make sure we’re not making that illegal.”

Before the bylaw comes back to council for consideration, staff will research the definition of an MMA contest and whether it includes tournaments hosted by schools.

The city moved towards a ban on MMA events because there had been a concern from the police about criminal activity within the sport.

While Mayor Rob Sawatzky admits organized crime is not involved in children’s competitions, he says the city has to consider the health of its citizens.

“The discussion could move along with a talk about blows to the head,” he said.