West Kelowna Warriors players with the three trophies the team won last season, including the natioanl junior A championship RBC Cup (middle). (CapitalNews file)

Hockey team’s decals rejected by West Kelowna council

Council won’t let decals touting West Kelowna Warriors RBC Cup win appear on city vehicles.

Is it advertising or is it pride?

A group of business owners in West Kelowna who want to band together to buy the team and keep it in the city have failed in a bid to convince council to put decals on city vehicles West Kelowna as home to the 2016 national junior A hockey champions.

Despite support from Mayor Doug Findlater and Coun. Rusty Ensign, three other councillors considered the move advertising and balked at spending just over $2,400 on the stickers. The motion to allow the decals was defeated 3-2.

“What’s the aim here?” said opponent Coun. Rick DeJong. “To sell more tickets. And that’s advertising.”

He was joined in his opposition to the idea of placing the decals on city vehicles by Councillors Carol Zanan and Rosalind Neis. Neis said the city had already spend $1,200 on two signs at each end of the city noting the RBC Cup win for the team and said with the decal cost and the dded cost of taking the stickers off vehicles in the future, the total the city will spend will be close to $4,000.

“If we do this for them, we have to it for (all other businesses),” said DeJong. “And there’s not enough room on the vehicles for everyone.”

The team, which in recent weeks appeared headed to North Delta, has struggled at the gate at West Kelowna Royal LePage Place, despite being defending national champions this season. The team’s owner is believed to be losing $250,000 per season.

But Findlater, who met with representatives of the local group looking to buy the team, said they told him the economic impact of the Warriors on West Kelowna is now estimated at $4 million a year.

In a report to council presented prior to the Tuesday’s council vote, Bob Kusch, West Kelowna’s parks, recreation and culture manager, said the decals would say “Home of the 2016 RBC Cup Champions.”

In his report, Kusch said a legal opinion provided to the city said as long as the wording was not advertising, but rather a form of showing pride, it would be legal.

But three of the five council members who voted Tuesday felt it was advertising.

While the decal idea was proposed by the group that wants to buy the team and keep it in West Kelowna, it’s not clear what, if any, impact the vote will have on that plan.

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