Beyond hockey and Hockey Canada: PRRD changes direction on sport funding bylaw

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The Peace River Regional District board rejected the bylaw that created a special Hockey Canada Events grant in aid service to support national and international hockey events in the region. Instead, the district amended the bylaw to include national and international sporting events of any discipline. 

Hockey Canada events at national and international levels have made for impressive spectacles in the region that draw tourism and energize communities. This effect provided the original drive for the special funding.

But Hockey Canada faced several tumultuous years investigating, bungling the investigation of, and being investigated for its handling of, sexual assault allegations. The failures of hockey’s national governing body resurfaced this spring. 

After closing an investigation of alleged sexual assault after a fundraiser in 2018, the survivor of the alleged assault sued Hockey Canada. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Hockey Canada’s response and settlement came under investigation by the federal government shortly after. Public funding was frozen and major sponsors began to pull away from the body this summer.

Hockey Canada announced that its own investigation into the alleged assault in 2018 would reopen on July 14th, 2022.

The PRRD’s decision to change the bylaw comes on the heels of this controversy. 

The shift from the bylaws originally accepted (with a 5-7 vote) form as a specifically Hockey Canada-oriented strategy to a broader focus on major sporting events in general, recognizes not only the snarls stemming from the organization but the value of national or international events beyond hockey to local communities.

Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman, who was opposed to the original bylaw, made the connection between the board’s change in direction and the organization’s recent turmoil.

“All you have to do is pop Hockey Canada into a Google search these days and hit ‘news.’ It’s not pretty,” she said.

“I think that, if we are willing to support an initiative with an organization that is in such a mess right now, we should also be able to support our culture and recreation as well.”

Though the original bylaw outlining a maximum requisition of $200,000, for which the tax rate would be approximately $0.0125/$1000, was approved by the board, rescinding the third reading was still in its purview.

Bylaws must be approved by the electorate through an assent voting process (intended, in this case, for the 2022 general election) after they are written by the board. Bylaws also come with a ‘cooling-off’ period during which the third reading can be taken back and the bylaw further amended.

For regional districts, this period includes the next meeting of the board.

The new bylaw, now called the Sport and Cultural Events Grant in Aid Service Establishment bylaw, broadens the scope of the available funding. It now includes the authority to provide grants to local governments or non-profit entities hosting national and international level sport, cultural events, competitions, and festivals.

Making this extra funding available, the board reasoned, supports the benefit these events provide communities for both cultural and athletic development—and the economic boost tourism from these events brings.

The reworked bylaw received its third reading during the PRRD meeting on Thursday. It will be brought up for approval from voters on the ballot during the 2022 General Local Government Election on October 15th, 2022.

With files from the Canadian Press

Do you have a news tip or a story idea?

Send it our way!

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.