Brantford City Council unanimously agreed to form a Major Sports Team Liaison Committee during their regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
Councillor Dan McCreary moved a motion for a waiver of the rules on the notice of motion, allowing him to bring forward a resolution without prior notice or approval from the Committee of the Whole.
“It’s moved by me and seconded by Councillor Carpenter, that section 15.11.5 and 15.3.12 of the procedure by-law be waived to introduce the notice of motion as a resolution without prior notice or first being considered by Committee,” said McCreary.
McCreary’s resolution proposed a new Major Sports Team Liaison Committee to be made up of three members including, Councillors McCreary, John Sless, and Richard Carpenter, as well as Mayor Kevin Davis as the Ex Officio (not official member, but still holds influence).
The committee would work to “create and maintain” positive and long-lasting business relationships with the city’s major sports teams, as well as to take advantage of future opportunities to help attract potential major teams.
McCreary said that while the resolution is short notice, it allows the committee to get up and running.
“This has been some time coming, and we were a bit tarty getting this out of the gate. We’re at a point now where summertime is coming up, and it’d be some time before this would come back to us again,” he said. “If we’re able to do this tonight, it allows the members of the committee an opportunity to have discussions with summer-based teams that will be heading into the playoffs probably in September and it also gives us an opportunity to consult with teams starting their seasons in September. There’s no cost to this, it’s just simply the time and effort of the committee members going forward to do this. If we’re able to do this tonight, that would give us a leg up and allow us to get a head start in terms of talking with some of the folks who have a timeliness in terms of their needs and goals.”
The votes were called and the waving of the rules to introduce a notice of motion without prior notice, carried unanimously.
As McCreary put the resolution up for discussion, he noted the similarity between the proposed committee and a prior two-person committee.
“This resolution before us tonight mimics something that we did a number of years ago, where we had a two-member committee that dealt with some of the issues and concerns of some of our major sports teams and it proved to be highly effective and beneficial,” he said. “We did a lot of good work at the time. “The reason we had some discussion around this – Councillors, Sless, Carpenter and I, is we feel that we can do some good work in the future with respect to helping our major teams and helping them be more effective, and helping them in many ways that we can determine through the discussions.”
He noted that while it wasn’t clear yet which teams they would be consulting with, they would likely be the equivalent of Junior C teams and up.
Carpenter added that the committee would also be a way to start addressing how to improve sports facilities within the community.
“We call ourselves the Tournament Capital but when you look at our facilities, we’re nowhere close,” he said. “…, There needs to be some way to talk about our facilities and how far behind we’ve fallen from other teams. If we’re going to be trying to lure large teams here, then we also have to make sure we’ve got all our sports facilities in place as well for the ones that are following them.”
Councillor Greg Martin congratulated the three councillors for stepping-up and taking on the extra work.
“This is extra work they’re taking on, and I have every confidence that the three of them will be able to do a wonderful job with this,” he said. “I look forward to seeing some positive results come out of this, and as Ex Officio – anytime you can contribute, Mr. Mayor, I think that’ll be a benefit to the committee as well.”
Councillor Rose Sicoli echoed Martin’s sentiments, agreeing that it was a great plan.
“I think this is a fabulous idea and kudos to the originator of this, Councillor McCreary,” she said. “I think it’s super important that we move and build off the momentum that we have with the Bulldogs and use that to our advantage.”
She did, however, note that she thought there was room for improvement.
“When I was reading this, there was one little thing that kind of caught my eye that I thought would make it even better,” she said. “I noticed that there were no women sitting on this, and I would like to suggest that perhaps we add a woman. The last I checked, girls play sports too, they watch sports too and I think they would add a valuable perspective to the meetings and to the discussion.”
Seconded by Councillor Mandy Samwell, Sicoli soon offered an amendment, to add a female councillor such as herself to the Major Sports Liaison Committee.
“I have a deep appreciation for the history of some of our longer-serving councillors and I think that’s incredibly important, but we have the benefit of balance sitting around this table,” she said. “We have gender balance, – not totally balanced, but it’s a little more diverse than it has been – and we have age and generational diversity. I think if we’re not using that to our advantage, we’re possibly missing out on a fresh set of eyes, on maybe some different perspectives that weren’t considered.”
Councillor Brian Van Tilborg wondered if his wardmate Samwell had any interest in joining the council, noting that each ward would be represented within the committee if she agreed.
After, McCreary declared both amendments friendly and agreed to add a fourth and fifth council member into the resolution without an official vote.
Sless had some concerns about the growing size of the committee and offered to remove himself from the group.
“I think it would be very intimidating for an ownership group of one of these major sports teams to come into a room with the potential of six members of council sitting there,” he said. “I think it’s very intimidating, and I think it would be counterproductive. If we want to balance this out, I’m quite happy to step aside and let someone take my place.”
After further discussion, Sicoli agreed that the group was rather too large and put forth an official amendment to remove her name from the committee. Sless followed Sicoli, moving an amendment to remove his name as well.
While McCreary encouraged his councillors to vote against Sless removing himself from the committee, Carpenter noted that if a member wanted to withdraw their name, they had every right to do so.
Council voted on the amendment to remove Sicoli 10-1 with McCreary opposed, while the amendment to remove Sless was 7-4.
With no further debate on the resolution, councillors voted unanimously to officially create a Major Sports Liaison Committee made up of Councillors Samwell, McCreary, and Carpenter, as well as Mayor Davis as Ex Offico.