By Nikki Jamieson
The group in charge of the local curling rink is requesting help making ends meet this year.
During their regular Nov. 7 meeting, Vauxhall council reviewed a letter from the Vauxhall Curling Club, asking the the town for financial assistance this year.
“One of the things that was recommended to me by administration is to maybe look at — if we do want to do some changes here — to bring it to budget as a possibility,” said Margaret Plumtree, mayor of Vauxhall, adding that the town had already received a Municipal District of Taber grant in the spring for rcreation, and would not receive another until next year.
In the letter, the VCC state that they have spent over $16,000 in the past year on club maintenance and repair, and had received a grant to put in five new heaters for the ice surface; new sinks, paint, tile, lino and toilets for the washrooms; painting the ice surface and rings; new vacuum cleaners; and plumbing repairs.
The VCC letter goes on to state that they pay the town $24,000 annually in rent and are responsible for al repairs and maintenance of the club. The club has never received any grant money directly from the M.D., their casino covers the cost of ice maker/caretaker and they try do as much work as possible with volunteers.
But this year, they are struggling to meet their financial obligations, despite having many fundraisers.
Additionally, the facility is about 40 years old, and maintenance costs are expected to rise as plumbing and electrical repairs need to to be done.
The VCC is asking for either a reduction in rent or a donation from the town to help cover costs this year.
“We just did the lease rental, I think last April, and part of the deal was they wanted to put new heaters back in. So, we didn’t up the rate at all, we didn’t change the rent rate, they said that would be fair, because then they could put the new heater in,” said Martin Kondor, Vauxhall councillor.
“And now, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, we put in new heaters, and now we need a break on our rent’. That was why we left everything. We agreed to it at the time, if I can remember right, it’s because we said we’ll leave it as is, but you guys got to pay to put a new heater in. That’s why we left it, everything the way it was, because they were going to do some extra work.”
Kondor added that while the VCC doesn’t receive grant money for recreation, the grant money the town receives for recreation runs the entire ice plant, to both the curling side and skating arena.
While one side might see more funds head their way, that’s because it gets billed more for the ice plant.
“Both sides — the (skating) rink and the curling rink — both get grant money. Most of it gets used to offset the cost of the ice plant, which is big dollars. They don’t get it directly, but it is from — in my opinion — to run the ice plant.”
Vauxhall CAO Cris Burns pointed out that the VCC paying for the heaters was in the contract. But, if they want to heat the ice, it’s up to them to pay for it, and it puts added stress on the ice plant, saying that “it’s a smaller ice surface, but more work for the plant”.
Plumtree suggested that when they did their budget for the next year, they look at where they allocate grant money.
Burns mentioned that from the M.D. grant, $3,000 went to the ice rinks.
“I think that’s where some people, if they don’t get a cheque, don’t understand,” said Kondor.
“We’re using it to run the facility. Just because your association doesn’t get the cheque, doesn’t mean that we’re not helping the association. The money is going to help run the equipment, to elevate the costs.”
Kondor suggested that they share where the grant money goes with the associations in town.
The M.D. grant money has been spent for the year, and as the town still has not received the Alberta Community Partnership program grant for the community pool — although according to Burns, they did receive the official letter that said “the check is in the mail” — they are hesitant to spend more money this year. Additionally, some of those repairs mentioned above by the club were already included in the agreement with the town, and they have not specifically asked for a dollar amount.
“Organizations, they work hard and they improve facilities,” said Kondor. “But, if you want to improve it and want a break, you might want to come and ask before you do it. And then, instead of asking for a break after, and be like, well, our budget is set for the year, we can’t give you a break. If you want something done, and can’t afford it, you might want to come and ask us, because we just can’t change our budget midway through the year.”
Although the community came together to get the pool up and running, not everything can be done in a year, according to council, and some projects have to be spaced out.
“Sometimes, if you can get communities to do it, and sometimes things just fall apart way too fast to make it happen. But it can go; okay, this year we’re all concentrating on this project, right, or two years, because some of them are big, and then maybe you get a six month break or something and then you start working on the next project, and okay, we’re going to put all our resources into that and pull together. But sometimes you can’t do that,” said Plumtree.
“We kind of did that I think for the pool, though this year, the Jets Stadium didn’t apply for a grant so the pool had more of an opportunity to get a grant.”
As they are at the end of the year, council passed a motion to bring up the matter back at budget time, as per the VCC’s request for an adjustment to their contract with the town.