West Kelowna city council is being asked to reconsider its refusal allow decals to be placed on municipal vehicles declaring the city is the home of the 2016 national junior A hockey champion West Kelowna Warriors.
Don Richmond, a city resident who is also the team’s chaplain, will appear before council next week as an individual, not as a representative of the team, to make the request.
“It’s not about the decals themselves,” said Richmond. “The decals represent a bigger issue. I would like to see the city be a little more flexible and for it to see the whole forest rather than a few trees.”
The future of the Warriors in West Kelowna remains uncertain, with a potential move to North Delta for next season still on the table after owner Mark Cheyne said he is losing as much as $250,000 per season as the team continues to struggle at the gate.
Richmond said he is aware of is a group of local business-people in the city that have teams up to try and buy the team to keep it in West Kelowna. The group is looking for others to join the effort.
Last week, Mayor Doug Findlater said he met with representatives of the group and they told him the team represents a $4 million economic impact to the city’s economy.
At last week’s council meeting, the request to place the decals on city vehicles was rejected in a 3-2 vote, with the three councillors opposed the move saying while they support the team, they felt the decals would be advertising for the Warriors.
That, they said, would be unfair to other businesses in West Kelowna.
But Richmond disagrees.
He said the decals simply express civic pride in the team’s achievement of winning a national championship. The decals specifically identify West Kelowna as home to the winners of the RBC Cup, emblematic of winning the Canadian union A hockey title.
“Those signs won’t sell season’s tickets or advertise the team,” he said.
Richmond also pointed to the fact the city has already placed small signs on the large Welcome to West Kelowna signs at each end of the city, identifying West Kelowna as home to the 2016 RBC Cup champions.
Prior to next Tuesday’s council meeting, a rally is scheduled for outside the West Kelowna municipal offices in support of the team.
The rally is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m on Feb. 28.
(For more on the Warriors, see page 23)