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Williams Lake city council to discuss support for junior hockey team

An attempt in Quesnel last month ended with no deal reached
(File Photo) A KIJHL franchise could begin playing in Quesnel soon, but faces new financial obstacle imposed by local government. (File Photo)

Williams Lake city council will be showing its support for a junior hockey team based in the lakecity by writing a letter to the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. (KIJHL)

Council met with representatives of the KIJHL team at the Feb. 6 special in camera meeting, and directed that the request (and relevant letters of support) be considered at the Feb. 13 regular council meeting in Williams Lake.

During the regular meeting, council voted unanimously in favour of providing a letter of support.

Coun. Scott Nelson said it was exciting news and council was taking the next step by bringing it forward to the public.

Mayor Surinderpal Rathor said the proposal is community-driven, something he appreciated.

“Hopefully we will have a team here for the 2024/2025 season,” the mayor said.

Attached to the report were support letters from the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association (WLMHA) and the Williams Lake Stampeders.

WLMHA president Mike Rispin was sitting in the gallery during the council meeting and Rathor thanked him and the other fellow ice-users for their letters of support.

Rispin’s letter supported the plan of Rob McMillan and Jason Tansem to bring a Junior “A” team from the KIJHL currently located in Kelowna for the coming season 2024/25.

“Our support is contingent on WLMHA being successfully included on any planning, no mayor impacts to our use of all current facilities within CMRC including all dressing rooms. Agreeable discussions regarding ensuring WLMHA maintains its access to sponsorship funding for each of our house and rep teams, normally this is approximately $20,000 in straight sponsorship dollars,” noted the letter.

The Williams Lake Stampeders organization also submitted a letter of support to the city for the KIJHL league, with conditions.

“The Stamps are willing to work with the Junior team to reach an agreeable solution that’s good for both parties. The Junior team would fill a void for players coming out of minor hockey and the Senior team would give players a viable option after their junior careers are over,” noted the Stampeders letter. “If all the parties involved are willing to work together with respect and transparency, we believe these goals can be achieved.”

The letter was signed by Stamps president Willy DeVuyst and vice-president Rob Gertzen.

Last month, a proponent of establishing a KIJHL team in Quesnel, Rob McMillan, was on the cusp of attaining that goal, but a special meeting he had with the Quesnel Kangaroos and the North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee (a mix of Regional District and City of Quesnel elected officials) ended in a condition: McMillan’s franchise would have to pay the Kangaroos franchise $100,000 per year.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, these recent developments make it impossible for us to make this vision a reality,” McMillan penned in a letter to the editor.

A group in Quesnel are meeting this week to try and find a way forward for the KIJHL.

Meanwhile, Williams Lake city council will discuss the league Tuesday evening, Feb 13.

McMillan failed in a 2021 attempt to bring KIJHL teams to Quesnel and Williams Lake.

- With a file from Frank Peebles, Quesnel Observer

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

A desire to travel led me to a full-time photographer position at the Williams Lake Tribune in B.C.’s interior.
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