TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. – Junior hockey in Tumbler Ridge took a step towards reality on Monday night when council discussed the possibility of bringing a team to the community.

The Greater Metro Junior Hockey League (GMHL) has contacted the District of Tumbler Ridge to discuss the opportunity of hosting a Junior A team.

At the end of November, GMHL West Executive Director Dr. Derek Prue visited the community to see what Tumbler Ridge has to offer.

The result of the visit was a formal request to move forward with negotiating a multi-year lease agreement to start a team in the 2022-2023 hockey season.

The most attractive feature of the report, according to councillor Will Howe, is that there’s no risk to the taxpayer.

“My favourite thing about this is that it doesn’t cost the taxpayers of Tumbler Ridge squat, but the people of Tumbler Ridge get the benefit of it,” Said Howe at the Council meeting on Monday night.

After discussing the benefits that junior hockey could add to the community, council looked at the number of dressing rooms available at the Tumbler Ridge Recreation Centre as the only potential snag in the plans.

“There’s one minor thing in this that I’m sure we can work through, and that’s dressing room allotment for tournaments.”

The facility currently has four dressing rooms, one of which is a specified girls’ change room. If a tournament comes through, there would only be three dressing rooms available, which wouldn’t work.

“I think we need to find a way to create another dressing room. Whether we utilize the curling rink space or something in the youth centre or at the end of the hallway, come up with some way that we could still do four dressing rooms on a temporary basis,” said Howe.

The Greater Metro Junior Hockey League was established in 2006 in Ontario with seven teams. Since then, the league has expanded to include a West Division, made up of teams from Alberta and British Columbia.

While not a member of Hockey Canada, the league website maintains it is a sanctioned league with a governing body.

The current list of teams in the West Division are:

Council carried the motion to begin negotiations with the GMHL to host a team in Tumbler Ridge and develop a 3-year facility use lease agreement for Council to review and approve.