Collingwood council voted Monday night to award the tenancy agreement for the Eddie Bush Arena to the Collingwood Colts, one of two teams vying to play in the arena next year.
“In my opinion, this is not a hockey decision for this council to make. This is a business decision,” said Deputy Mayor Keith Hull. “At the end of the day... we need to be looking at which organization has the best formula for success.”
Coun. Mariane McLeod agreed with Hull, but brought up concerns about what she referred to “strong-arm tactics” and letters to council members outlining consequences for not choosing the Tier II Junior A team.
“I’m coming to this vote with a little bit of trepidation,” said McLeod.
“The ultimate decision for me comes down to risk assessment,” said Mayor Brian Saunderson, adding that three applications have been made concerning the encroachment issue.
“I’m concerned the Junior B franchise will not make it to the ice due to these encroachment issues,” said Saunderson.
“The GOJHL maybe got ahead of themselves and were maybe too ambitious about how the expansion could happen,” said Coun. Bob Madigan.
The proposal for a junior hockey team in Collingwood would see a Tier II Junior 'A' team serving as farm team for the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts.
David Steele, the president and one of the owners of the proposed Collingwood Colts team, said in February that his plans are already in the works, from recruitment to coach interviews and season planning.
Steele is sharing ownership of the Collingwood Colts with Howie Campbell, owner of the Barrie Colts, and Russel Urbanoski of Nutrafarms Inc.
The Barrie Colts are a top-tier Junior 'A' hockey team, which means they are part of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), while the proposed Collingwood Colts, as a Tier II team, would be part of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL).
The motion was carried unanimously to award the Collingwood Colts with the tenancy agreement.