Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pincher Creek Curling Club brings new building proposal back to Town Council

Chris Davis - Pincher Creek Curling Club President Randy Elliott acted as the main spokesman of a four person delegation that appeared before Pincher Creek's Town Council on Tuesday evening, April 24.  Elliott said that, having considered and measured other sites and possibilities, the club had come to the conclusion that constructing a new facility adjacent to the Pincher Creek Golf Course clubhouse was the best option for replacing the present aging curling rink and clubhouse, which is located on Main Street between Sobey's and the MCC arena.

"Of all the sites we looked at, the one that best suits we think would be the golf course," Elliott said. "At our last meeting with the Town and the Rec Board we were asked to put in a final proposal concerning the curling facility in the town of Pincher Creek," he explained.  "We had the drawings and the measurements for the proposed building so we went to four separate sites to see if the sites would accommodate the building and the necessary parking."

Elliott gave a rundown of the sites that had been considered.

Of the golf course location he said "At the golf course we measured up right beside the parking lot between the maintenance road and number 7 tee-off box, and the building is 194 feet long, and there was 250 from the edge of the ditch to the back end of the tee-off box.  It would fit there and there's lots of width."

"We checked number 2 soccer pit behind the pool and the library," he continued. "The site is big enough to accommodate a curling rink, but if there was ever a new arena to be attached to it there wouldn't be enough room."

"Site number 3 was the AG grounds, and again that was large enough to accommodate the building but the utilities and the waste-water would be a large issue in that area."

"Site number 4 was relocating lobby end of the curling rink club to the back end between the curling club and the old pool, and by the time you would pay to have everything removed with all utilities, building, and moving the ice plant and everything else, we're already up to a million dollars.  I don't think it's worth putting a million dollars into that building.  The ice surface there is only good for another ten years or so."

Elliot also explained that the projected costs of the proposed new structure came from several local businesses, two different prices came from Star Tech for the ice plant that would be needed, and an estimated cost for demolishing the present building was provided by Three Rivers.

Included in the proposal package were leases from curling facilities in Fort Macleod and Crowsnest Pass for comparison.

The price for a new facility was estimated to be $1,660,130 according to one plan, or $1,600,835 to the other. Both proposals state "Unforseen, permits, licenses, registrations and forgotten probably add $50,000 to $100,000 to the price."

"We're in the process of raising money by grants," Elliott continued. "We hired a person to help us out in that end of it.  We started a building fund, and we're hoping to continue with building-fund fundraisers.  We've asked different facilities and clubs around town for a letter of support, and we'd appreciate it if we could get a letter from the Town also."

According to Elliott construction would take six to seven months, and the club would aim at opening the new facility in time for the 2013-2014 season.  

Councillor Sahra Hancock had a number of questions for Elliott, primarily focusing on who would own the club, and who would maintain it.

"One of the things reading through this that I wasn't clear on, are you requesting permission to build on any of these locations, or are you asking the Town to build it?"
"We're a volunteer club," Elliott replied.  "There's no way we can do it."

"What is the model that is being suggested," asked Hancock, wondering if the club would operate it or the Town would.  Curling club Vice President Rick Visser indicated that the lease arrangements of the Fort Macleod and Crowsnest Pass clubs had been included to demonstrate models that were being used elsewhere.

Councillor Hancock continued to be concerned about the costs of maintaining the building and operating costs.  "In my mind, building something is the easiest part," she said.  "This community built a 4 million dollar pool in a fairly short order, and now we've got a million dollars annual operating expenses on that. We've got a half-million dollar operating expense on the arena, which I think would be a comparable dollar figure. They operate on the same time line, and have the same kind of ice-plant maintenance, and that kind of stuff."

"Would the curling club look after the building," interject Mayor Ernie Olsen, "I think is the biggest thing here, no matter who builds it."

"I think we would be," said Elliott.  "I think we would be doing the ice, I think we would be doing our janitorial,and stuff like that, but I think when you get to the equipment such as the ice-plant, for example, that's a big expense for us.  In the Crowsnest Pass the municipality is looking after the maintenance of that because it is their equipment."

"Sure, we would look after when we're using it, but as far as repairs and stuff, when it's a municipal building I don't think you can ask us to look after it," Elliott continued. "We may not look after it the way you want it looked after."      

Mayor Olsen noted that if the curling club looked after the facility during the approximately six months it used it, the Town would not face the high expenses it incurs at the arena, where Town personnel are onsite as much as 16 hours a day when in use.

Councillor Hancock was also worried that the proposed new rink would only have 6 months of dedicated use, and that renting it out the rest of the year for other functions would create competition for other Town facilities that provide such rental space.

"The decision is not just building a building, it's the 20 years of operating and maintaining and having it be cared for.  I think that's a bigger conversation than just saying 'here's a bit of land, let's go build a building' because we've got ongoing year-after-year ways that this will affect the Town's budget.  How do make sure it works, that there can be a curling facility in Pincher Creek, but that there  is enough foresight and planning going into it so that we're not being blind-sided for something that hadn't been planned for or thought about."

"The biggest problem is we're running out of time," replied Elliott.  "If we don't get something done soon we can forget about curling in Pincher Creek.  The engineer's report says that building is done in two more years."

Councillor Don Anderberg said "There should be some background here with respect to curling facilities and municipalities in the Province of Alberta.  "I would say that this curling facility in the Town of Pincher Creek is one of the few that are privately owned or owned by a society such as the Pincher Creek Curling Club.  The vast majority of curling rinks in the Province...are owned by the municipalities.  There are several municipalities that are building curling rinks, because they see the value of curling to their communities.  It's one of the few sports that you can participate in from a young age, probably 6 years-old, to 80-plus years-old, and it's one of the few sports where that 6 year old and that 80 year-old can participate in the same game, compete against each other, and actually have a good game."  Anderberg also mentioned the many other facilities in town that operate within a six month window. "If it's done right, this facility could be used 12 months of the year.  If it's at the golf course, the golf course could use it in the summertime."      

"The decision has to be made one way or the other here," Councillor Anderberg continued.  "The Curling Club has done everything it has been asked to do by the Town Council and the Recreation Board to get information to bring forward."

"Council supports curling in Pincher Creek," he said.  "It's on the record.  I think we should move ahead and find a way to make it happen."

"Saying you support curling in Pincher Creek is different from say you're going to fund curling in Pincher Creek," Councillor Hancock replied.

Councillor Wayne Oliver asked if why the old clubhouse could not be torn down and replaced with a new structure in the present location, and was told by Randy Elliott that the cost would be quite prohibitive, and given the short lifespan left on the rink not worth it, adding that modern rules governing public facilities for things such as wheelchair ramps could not be accommodated by the present rink.

"You guys have done everything we've asked of you," Mayor Olsen told the Curling Club delegation. "It's time for Council to discuss it, and then it would have to go to a public hearing."  He said he would try to have the issue put on the agenda for Council's upcoming retreat on May 5.  The lease is going to be the biggest part of it."


  1. Anonymous25/4/12

    People & children drive to participate in various sports - i.e. hockey, skiing etc. - why can the adults not drive to the Pass where they are experiencing low numbers for their curling members. Questions - how many curlers are there in Pincher Creek - I was told there was 52 this past season! Thats alot of money per curler - my taxes are already up 4+% - where does it stop?

  2. Anonymous26/4/12

    I agree, if in fact there are only 52 curlers in the Pincher Creek Curling Club, then why should us as tax payers shell out this kind of money for a facility that may only see partial usage for 6 months of the year, and sit vacant for the remainder. I think if the Club wants or "needs" a new building because there is only two more years left in the existing building, then the Pincher Creek Curling Club needs to get up and find the money to do it, and NOT just present an offer to the town saying that "We are running out of time" so the town can foot the bill. If this were any other club or business, damn right there would have to be a money investment before anything was even looked at.

  3. Anonymous26/4/12

    What is the lifespan on the arena now? 5-10 years ?? Maybe the more cost effective plan is to look at eeking out the curling rink for another 2-5 years and then doing one major build of the arena and curling rink. There are a number of cost efficiencies in having one ice plant that can run both buildings. And one building project over 2 will be more cost effective too.

    Curling would probably have more participation if it was more visible. Yes the building is on Main Street but the entrance and public profile is not very inviting, so unless you know someone who curls you are unlikely to go in and use it.

  4. Anonymous26/4/12

    All of these comments are correct and very well said. 52 members of the club? Is this correct? And the Curling Club members expect Town Council, ie tax payers to shell out money for a brand new building with all the bells and whistles? There are more than 52 children in this town that require decent licensed childcare. We have aging infrastructure in Pincher Creek and property taxes are already high. I do not think it is responsible for municipal funds to be spent for 1.48% of the population. Instead of pondering the idea of building 52 people a new curling rink, maybe Council should get together and start a long term capital plan. They could start upgrading water and sewer lines or resurfacing the streets that are full of pot holes just to name a couple. Has the Club addressed the MD Council in the same fashion as Town Council? There are an awful lot of rural residents who still see a value in curling. Has the curling club thought about finding a corporate sponsor? Fortis? TransAlta? Shell? Maybe that is an option, but piggy backing on already high taxed residents is not an option.

  5. Anonymous27/4/12

    I think I can sum it up in very few words. Curling needs to be supported and paid for by the users only.As others said previously our property taxes are way over the top already.If something like curling was viable in Pincher Creek private enterprises would build it and make money from it.Just saying!!!

  6. Anonymous27/4/12

    If you're looking at it that way then every recreational activity should be user pay. How much do you think users of the pool would pay when the operating budget is over a million a year.

  7. Anonymous27/4/12

    52 members maybe you should get your facts straight before making a comment, instead of listening to coffee shop rumours, 16 mixed teams and 9 men's teams, with 4 member per team did not add up to 52 in my math class.
    Further more it was a half season due to mechanical problems, so some curlers committed to other things for the winter. Who said anything about taxes going up for a new rink I seen nothing in the article that said that. The Pincher Creek Curling Club is on a full out fund raising drive and are not just sitting with there hands out looking for tax dollars, so in 10 years when the arena is to be replaced are the minor hockey, figure skating, and rec hockey clubs going the raise the money to replace it, or are we going to send them to the Crowsnest Pass too. Yes the Curling Club will be presenting the same package to the MD at there May 22nd meeting, and we have talked to some corporate sponsors but need to have a place to build and the support from the TOWN and the MD to proceed any further.

  8. Anonymous27/4/12

    Having read the comments made in “The Voice” concerning the local Curling Club, I feel compelled to make a comment.
    I have never understood how the town residents of Pincher Creek can always and without fail be totally negative concerning any project that may come up to enhance the town.
    How many other projects has the Town paid for or put money into without seeing a positive return? Almost all the sports facilities in Pincher Creek have been, in some form or another, supported by the Town EXCEPT for the Curling Rink. The members have supported their own club and building with no help from the town, except for the odd small grant, for 50 years. The swimming pool has gone in the hole every year since it was built, and yet I don’t here any complaints about its operation or what can be done to improve its operation.
    As many of the curling members reside within the MD of Pincher Creek, I definitely agree that the MD should also be approached to help support this cause.
    I am also sure, that once this facility is finished, the curling club members will continue to support and pay for the yearly operation of the facility. They will not be coming back to the town with their hands out every year as some of our facilities do.

  9. Anonymous28/4/12

    I would like to comment on some of the comments that I have read in the voice about the curling clubs proposal to the town council. The proposal was what the council had asked us to do, so they would know what was required for a building and where it would fit. we did not go to this meeting with our hands out, it was more for an information session so that the council knew what we were up to. As for getting up and finding the money, we have been working on this for four years, trying to figure out a way to do this without raising taxes.(I am a tax payer also and do not want my taxes going up). Of the questions raised, we did look into joining the arena and the curling club so one ice plant could be used but because both facilities use different temperatures of ice, this solution does not work. We are also in the process of presenting the proposal to the MD council at their next meeting. Our executive has hired a fund raising person to assist us in fund raising. Pincher Creek needs recreation as a draw for new people to move to Pincher Creek. There are numerous things in our town that we as tax payers pay for but do not have a return from using them, such as a bike park, a walking trail, tennis courts , etc. but we need each one of them to grow as a town. In closing the curling club has suvived on its own for 50 years without asking the town for any money to operate, and would continue to do so with a new facility. Thank you for all the comments, because without both negative and positive comments we cannot move forward.

  10. J. A. Van Leeuwen29/4/12

    Look at the demographics of southwest Alberta:

    There are many options for community investment, but limited $$$ to invest.

    The region's communities must invest wisely to improve their demographic and economic fortunes. Their options include:

    - facilitating wealth creation for today's and tomorrow's youth

    - facilitating recreation for special interest groups

    Which option is more important to improving the fortunes of communities in southwest Alberta?

  11. Anonymous6/5/12

    Just a few points on which I would like to comment. Walking trails, bike park ans such facilities are low cost, low maintenance. Walking trails benefit a very large number of residents and would one rather have the town's youth riding their bikes on the streets and sidewalks? As for the swimming pool, it is a very necessary facility in a town surrounded by rivers, lakes, dugouts and other water sources. Can anyone tell me of a person who died because they couldn't curl? I thought not. How many children have died through not being able to swim? One is one too many. Enough said.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. Comments are moderated before being published. Please be civil.

Infinite Scroll