Last week, Vernon city council agreed that a bylaw should be drafted to end the ban on mixed martial arts in the town.
Professional MMA events were banned in Vernon, British Columbia in 2014 after concerns that the events were linked to organized criminal activity in the area. However, after getting confirmation from the Vernon’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment that there is no ongoing concern that MMA will bring organized crime to Vernon, the council will move forward on lifting the five-year ban on the sport.
“I do not have any issue with the events specifically bringing organized crime into the city,” wrote Supt. Shawna Baher in a statement to council (h/t GlobalNews). “As with any event that serves alcohol, I would be more concerned with the behaviour of individuals within the audience attempting to emulate what they observed during and after the event.”
However, Baher did suggest that RCMP officers should be present during any professional MMA events in Vernon. Despite the added security measures, the council hearing was seen as a positive step for MMA in the region and will help lift the negative perceptions and lingering stigmas associated with the sport.
“It is good for the community. It shows that city council is moving forward on things,” said Unity MMA owner Raja Kler.
Vernon is a city in the Okanagan region of the British Columbia, Canada and has a population of 39,960. It is reportedly one of Canada’s most dangerous places in 2018, according to the crime severity index (CSI) but dropped several spot in the following year’s ranking system.