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.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Two people sent to hospital in View Royal crash

Crash on Island Highway near Six Mile Road snarled the evening commute

Physician assistants say they can help B.C. health care woes

Reducing wait times, improving doctor efficiency is the goal

VIDEO: Victoria writer and filmmaker turns her mental illness into mental strength

Mental illness robs Victoria woman of happiness from age 10

Sewage leak closes sterilizing room at Victoria General Hospital

Royal Jubilee equipment sharing means no VGH surgeries cancelled

Thieves target Sooke school’s emergency supplies

Journey middle school victims for a second time

Legal pot price must be ‘competitive’ with black market: Blair

Bill Blair shared final words on journey to legalization ahead of official day Wednesday

Advance voting begins Oct. 10 in Greater Victoria

The polls open at 8 a.m. for the 2018 municipal election with the general election taking place Oct. 20

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Most Read