Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pincher Creek Curling Club asks MD for support

Chris Davis -

Pincher Creek Curling Club fundraising coordinator Debbie Reed and representative Diana Reed appeared as a delegation before the MD of Pincher Creek council at their November 8, 2016 meeting to appeal for funding support from the MD for a new curling facility. Diane Reed also appeared as a delegation before the MD council on November 22, with Debbie Reed in attendance.
According to the November 8 delegation, the need for a new curling facility has been an issue since at least 2008. "The present building is old and needs replacement."

Provided documents included an September 11, 2013 independent engineering inspection report that found several serious flaws with the curling club's current Main Street structure. Since then several solutions have been presented and discussed by delegations to both councils. In a letter to council outlining their purpose for requesting to appear at the November 8 meeting Debbie Reed said "Our delegation will expect your reasons and rationale as to why we seem to be hitting a brick wall as far as financial support from the MD councils, both present and past."

"What rationale is council basing their decision on in this matter? I have been a part of a steering committee with the Town and other representatives regarding this matter. After four meetings, I asked why the MD was not involved and found out that a councillor was appointed to sit in on the meetings but hasn't been. Not only that, I found out it was my representative councillor. You are supposed to represent the people and in not attending the meetings, I don't feel council can make an informed decision because you do not have all the facts and rationales discussed to come to the decision for a new building. I am here to present you facts and answer questions you may have as you did not have anyone at those meetings."

According to the delegation, the need for a new curling facility and an appeal for financial help to achieve that "has been presented to this council since at least 2012. Why has there been no money in the budget over the last 4.5 years for this project?"

"The town has been approached over the same period of time and they are supportive to pay for half of the building," the delegation told council on November 8.

"We are a self sufficient club and do not ask council for money to run day to day operations."

According to the club's documents, over 500 people a month used the rink last season, 55% of those curlers were MD residents, and "1.5% of the population of Pincher Creek town and MD are members of' our curling rink," which the delegation contrasted with "0.3 % of the population of Lethbridge city and county" who are members of their curling rink.

In a March 2015 letter to MD council Debbie Reed said "As a club, we have raised $30,000 towards a new building. In 2012 we proposed a plan for a new facility to MD of Pincher Creek council and Pincher Creek Town Council at an estimated cost of $3,000,000. Our club applied for grants that were denied because we did not have a land location nor did we have financial backing. The Town of Pincher Creek has recently budgeted for $1.25 million for a new curling rink. We are again in the process of applying for grants such as CFEP, CIP, along with grants from private foundations. Our goal as a club is to raise $500,000 for the new building with hopes that the MD of Pincher Creek No 9. will match the Town of Pincher Creek's amount of 1.25 million."

According to their presentation, the club has a sustaining membership of all ages and "We have all nights of the week filled and the rink is used almost every weekday with school programs and curling leagues and bonspiels."

"We have a very strong junior program with 20 juniors last year. We had 3 in 2012."

"Curriculum from Alberta Education lists curling as a "lifelong" physical activity. Why would our council not support this?"

The package presented included copies of previous letters from the curling rink and copies of two extensive studies, one based on the impact a curling rink has on a rural community and the second a comparison of curling rinks across Canada. "This way when we are making comparisons, we are comparing 'apples to apples'." Engineering reports dating back to 2009 were also included.

In her own written submission to council Diana Reed said council "should be financially contributing to the new curling rink and matching the Town Of Pincher Creek's contribution to date." In person on November 22 she said "You have sadly neglected the health of the community itself."

The Town of Pincher Creek and the MD of Pincher Creek are currently holding their annual joint funding discussions, but Diana Reed (an MD citizen) said she believed that "No longer do we have a working recreation agreement with the town." She questioned the MD's current $100 per capita contribution to recreation joint funding, saying the Town contributes over $300 per capita and "this doesn't seem fair to me." During the question period that followed her presentation to council Reed questioned MD council's willingness to work with the Town, saying " This petty argument between the Town and MD has to stop." She said the MD is not keeping in touch with the cultural and recreational needs of the population. "If the Town is addressing it, why are we not?" She also called Pincher Creek a "sick community" that needed to increase its appeal if it is to get more people to move here to help revitalize it. "Do we want to be like Barrons and Carmangay?" She warned that if a centralized recreation facility is built in Fort Macleod "this community will die".

"It is your responsibility to be proactive, not reactive, in responding to the needs of the community. Why are you dragging your feet? This is part of your job, just as much as roads."

After the presentation of November 8 councillor Fred Schoening said he would commit $1,000 of his own money to support the new curling facility provided the club could demonstrate its viability by achieving 1000 signatures on a fundraising petition. At the November 22 meeting Diane Reed said she thought that was a loaded proposition. "What does it mean, are there 1000 taxpayers in MD ?" At that meeting councillor Quentin Stevick said he agreed with councillor Schoening's idea and offered to be donation number 999 with his own $1000 donation if councillor Schoening is number 1000 with his $1000. "We are prepared to help you on your fundraising event." Councillor Terry Yagos told Diane Reed that there is an MD fund of approximately $6000 available for capital projects, and "anytime the town asks for it they can have it," which CAO Wendy Kay clarified was in addition the MD's $100 per capita contribution. Reeve Brian Hammond said all members of the MD council is concerned about well being of community but has to sometimes make hard decisions. "We have a wide range of responsibilities and we have limited assets."

Reeve Hammond said the MD was having a meeting with their community partners (the Town) this week, and council decided to postpone further discussion until after that meeting.

Related stories:
Pincher Creek Curling Club brings new building proposal back to Town Council (2012)

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