Edmonton mayor seeks new approach to combat sports regulation

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mixed martial arts is regulated in North America by State, Provincial, and Tribal government athletic commission. However, some Canadian provinces, notably Alberta, also have municipal commissions. Such is the case in Edmonton, and mayor Don Iveson is pursuing a change.

This comes against the backdrop of the death of Tim Hague in a boxing match on June 18 at the Shaw Conference Centre, regulated by the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission. The mayor said an investigation of the death should begin this week, once the review panel is in place.

In the mean time, Scott Johnston, City Hall Bureau Chief for Global News, reports that the mayor is proposing a single combative sports commission, shared between all cities.

“That has been our long-standing position,” said Iveson. “The province hasn’t immediately said, ‘Yes, we would do it,’ so I’ve actually had some conversations with other mayors about banding together to have a province-wide municipal commission which might get us the results faster of a kind of shared approach to this.

“I do think we need a different approach as local governments. I’m a coalition builder by nature so it occurred to me that after a couple of these conversations that this should be the next thing that we explore.”

The arrangement was proposed in 2015 by mayor Melissa Blake of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in northeastern Alberta.


“The province didn’t act on it then and initial indications are that they might not act on it swiftly if we brought it forward again,” said mayor Iveson. “So I think we may need to look to local government for answers rather than asking the province to solve this problem for us.

“I firmly believe local government is the strongest order of government, the best able to tackle complexity, and this is one of those situations where regulating life and death issues around combative sports. I think it’s been difficult for one municipality to do it on its own but I think if we can pull together across the province we might be able to move faster than the province itself.”

“This is not an economic question for the City of Edmonton. I think the purpose of the commission is to ensure that fights are safe and lawful for the combatants first and foremost and then that they’re essentially to try to limit the involvement of organized crime and other elements.

“I’m open to all possibilities because I do think that this regulatory approach needs some reform. I don’t have all the answers but I want to work with others and be mindful of the findings of this independent report in whatever changes we make to combative sports regulation.”