Vegreville Town Council Salvages Curling Season
Members of Vegreville town council came to a consensus regarding the operation of the Heather Curling Club during its Nov. 3 legislative committee meeting.
Council agreed to forego $20,000 in rent as well as the $5,000 contribution the curling club normally puts into a reserve fund for the replacement of the ice plant to make it feasible for the non-profit group to be able to operate this season.
Community Services Director Phil Rowe stated that it costs just over $45,000 for the town to operate the facility. Spread out over the course of five months that would come to a monthly rental fee of $9,400 that is charged to the curling club which has a rental agreement with the town. Rowe also pointed out that if there was no curling in the facility this year, the cost to the town would be just under $20,000.
Mayor MacPhee said his proposal would result in a 35 to 40 percent reduction in the monthly rental. As well, a reduction in the monthly rental would also apply to all other users of the town’s facilities. MacPhee also stated that the town could recoup that money and help offset the costs to help other users. “Then we can claim the $25,000 back on the other side of the COVID MOST (Municipal Operating Support Transfer) grant.” The town has been allocated $582,986 under that provincial grant program.
Coun. Tina Warawa fully supported the proposal and said even if there was no curling season the town would have to pay those expenses anyway. The rest of council agreed to the proposal.
MacPhee went on to say, “I know there’s going to be other user groups come forward and we’ll have to make some allowances. But this is very unique where they have to pay 100 percent of everything. And I know the building was built basically for a curling rink. The multipurpose side comes up eight times a year, but it is a curling rink and that’s what it’s built for. And again, it’s part of our culture within our community and it always has been, and I feel that we’ll be able to recoup that money. So I think that maybe that will be enough to get them through this season.”
Before council reached a consensus, a delegation from the Heather Curling Club consisting of executive members Dwight Hopper, Kevin Weder, and Sonny Gegolick came before members of council requesting financial assistance.
Hopper said the club’s executive reviewed its financial outlook and it was clear that having a curling season was not feasible. He said that after the decision was made available to its members many of them stated how disappointed they were that there would not be a curling season. Those numbers did not include the club’s afternoon or youth curlers.
“Our estimated expenditures are $60,000 that includes our contingency fund of $5,000 paid to the town on an annual basis. Of this amount, $36,000 would be paid to the town as per the rental agreement.” Without holding a bonspiel or fundraiser, Hopper said they could generate approximately $22,000 in revenue this year. That would leave the club with a deficit of approximately $38,000 and that is why the executive originally determined it was not financially feasible to operate this year.
“To maintain the sport of curling in Vegreville we are requesting funding assistance from the Town of Vegreville. We present this information in the hopes of receiving financial aid and salvaging the 2020-’21 curling season.
We believe the curling club provides a huge benefit to residents of Vegreville and the surrounding area. COVID has caused hardship to many individuals and with your assistance, we can be a positive outlet to help residents during this unprecedented time,” stated Hopper.
Members of council suggested the club get creative with their fundraisers, recommending they host a fun night and other events to generate more interest and revenue for the club.
An annual general and start-up meeting has been slated for Nov. 16 at the Heather Curling Club.
As for the Pickleball and Senior Walking groups which are currently utilizing the multiplex, the town will have to make alternate arrangements in the coming weeks. Rowe said the ice will go in November 23. Curling is expected to get underway at the beginning of December.