Victoria Grizzlies team president John Wilson shakes hands with Colwood councillor and West Shore Parks and Recreation Society board chair Rob Martin on Wednesday at The Q Centre after announcing the ice lease agreement reached between the B.C. Hockey League club and the arena operator.

BCHL’s Grizzlies can now look to the future

Five-year lease deal for Colwood arena creates more certainty for Jr. A hockey team

It took some hammering, with both sides doing their darnedest to protect their best interests.

In the end, the Victoria Grizzlies and the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society came to an agreement that lays the groundwork for keeping the team in Colwood for at least the next five years.

On Tuesday the B.C. Hockey League club signed a lease deal for The Q Centre that gives them cost certainty and allows the team to focus on finding ways to boost attendance.

While terms of the five-year agreement were not disclosed, both team and society spokespeople indicated the deal was a compromise for each party.

“The agreement is not precisely what we wanted, but it’s done now and it’s time to play hockey,” said Grizzlies team president John Wilson.

“We’re glad to be able to have our focus on the ice and not at the boardroom table. We never had any doubt that we were going to have a team here in the fall. Moving forward, we have a great group of kids coming in this season and we’re expecting a strong squad.”

Rob Martin, Colwood councillor and board chair for the society, admitted some tough negotiations went on in the past couple of months.

“I think we were on the same page, but obviously it’s never a profitable business to be in junior hockey,” he said. With the team trying to control costs as much as possible and West Shore Parks and Recreation conscious of the public purse, he said, it took some give and take to reach an agreement.

“I think we found a very happy medium which allows the Grizzlies to continue to operate and hopefully have a path to financial viability and not put the taxpayers of the West Shore at risk.”

During the past couple of months, Wilson said, the Grizzlies club has received community encouragement from a variety of businesses and individuals. Not only did that support give them the will to keep coming back to the table with West Shore Parks and Recreation, he said, it has created positive connections to help put more fans in the seats.

“We’re very humbled and appreciative of the community for showing their support for the Grizzlies during this trying time,” he said.

Wilson acknowledged that the South Island is a tough sports market to compete in, but he remains optimistic that with new marketing personnel on board and new partnerships being made in the community, the West Shore will continue to support the team.

“Hockey is Canada’s sport and people are drawn to it in droves,” he said. “I think we had five or six local players on our team last year and we’ll probably have the same this year.”

He added that nine players from last year’s team have secured college scholarships, a number he believes is a high for Junior A teams in Canada.

The Grizzlies are one of 17 teams in the BCHL – Wenatchee Wild will begin play next season – and have been in existence as a franchise since 1994, when they were the Victoria Salsa. They were renamed the Grizzlies in 2006 when Len Barrie was part of the ownership group and the team was playing out of what was then Bear Mountain Arena. Barrie sold majority interest in the team in 2012 to Ron Walchuk and Vancouver Island Sports and Entertainment Ltd., who later brought in more community owners, including Wilson.

Just Posted

Neighbour details hearing ‘thuds’ the day girls found dead in Oak Bay

Jury at double-murder trial hears from Andrew Berry’s neighbour

‘Goodness prevails’: neighbours reflect following suspicious death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Martin Payne was found dead in his Metchosin home on Friday. Police have confirmed foul play.

Family cycling affair Tour de Victoria rolls into ninth year

Riders can sign up for the 160 km Factor race, or distances of 140, 100, 60 30 0r 15 kilometers

Repatriation efforts work to heal and connect through history: Royal BC Museum

Victoria museum’s efforts bolstered by B.C. repatriation grant

Big Lonely Doug among largest old-growth trees now on protection list

B.C. to protect 54 old-growth trees, but critics say it’s not enough

VIDEO: Sparrows raise their chicks in Cadboro Bay deck planter

Jill Yoneda captured 11 days up close with tiny Junco sparrows

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read