Port Alberni group looking to buy BCHL’s Bulldogs

Local group taking initiative to purchase junior A franchise for Alberni Valley

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs are for sale.

The newly formed and registered Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society is looking to be the next owner of the junior A club owned by Okanagan Hockey School Limited.

OHS president Andy Oakes confirmed they were approached by the society with interest in acquiring 100 per cent of the shares.

“It’s been something from our standpoint that we’ve entertained over the last number of months just due to the fact that us being in Penticton and Alberni Valley being so far away,” said Oakes, adding there are challenges in operating the organization smoothly from a distance. “You don’t have the same finger on the pulse as you would if you were right in the community.”

Oakes said this is a great move for the community.

“It’s a small proud community that if they have the ownership and it’s their team that’s the key to long-term sustainability,” said Oakes. “There is a lot of pride around that team.”

Oakes said it wasn’t easy to come to this decision, but they are looking at it from a business perspective. They want to return their focus to their core operation with the academy and school.

“We really like the BCHL,” said Oakes. “We like the community and the team.

“I don’t have any regrets over the five years besides the fact maybe we haven’t been able to put the most competitive team on the ice every year we’ve owned the team,” said Oakes to Black Press. “We’ve had some peaks and valleys with the club. The one thing I would have to say is we’re still operating the team like we’re going to own it next year.”

Tom McEvay is the director for PAJHS and said there have been people working behind the scenes the past month to create the society. McEvay said it will be better to operate the team as a non-profit society because they can be funded differently. Other non-profit teams in the BCHL include Powell River, Prince George, Merritt and Trail.

“They’re four of the longest-standing, stable franchises in the league,” he said.

They have also consulted with people from the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League, a team McEvay said is also owned by a society.

June 1 is the target date set to raise $500,000, and their final target is $1 million. McEvay stressed this is not the buying price for the shares, but the capital needed to move forward. Once they reach agreements with the owners, the deal still has to be approved by the league. There is a board of governors’ meeting on June 6.

– story written with files from the Alberni Valley News.