by EVAN MATTHEWS
The future of the Valemount Curling Club is now in the hands of the electorate.
At its Jun. 15 meeting, The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG) board approved going ahead with an assent-vote to establish a tax to fund the curling rink, which is currently run by a non-profit. An assent-vote is also known as a referendum.
The annual operating cost is expected to be roughly $64,350 with an estimated residential tax rate of $13 per $100,000 of assessment, according to the report.
That is, property owners with a home assessed at $200,000 would see their taxes increase by $26/year. The region taxed for the service would be identical to the service area for the arena.
The regional district board, to date, has approved $10,000 of expenditures to fund the Curling Club’s feasibility study, though only $5,296.42 has been spent. The largest expense was hiring an engineer to evaluate the condition of the building.
Now with an assent-voting coming, the Curling Club will require an additional $5,300 in funding for assent-vote expenses, according to the district.
When asked if an election official has been named or a date for the election set, the RDFFG did not respond by presstime.
The Curling Club Society currently operates the facility and is funded from membership fees, fundraising and revenue from events. It has approx. 30 members and hosts curling events, dances and other events throughout the year.
The tax would pay for operational expenses and help replace the aging ice plant, according to a recent feasibility study by the regional district.
The study outlines four different options, all of which involve the regional district taking on ownership of the building – valued at $1,400,000 –from the Village of Valemount. The Curling Club has a 30-year lease (expiring in 2040) for the property with the Village of Valemount.
Two of the options look at connecting the Curling Club to the Canoe Valley Recreation Centre’s arena ice plant; the other two options involve installing a new ice plant, the cheapest option, according to Curling Club Steering Committee Member Korie Marshall.
The steering committee’s preferred option is for the regional district to own the facility, the Valemount Curling Club Society to operate the facility, and to replace the current ice plant with a more environmentally friendly Freon–based one.
The capital cost of replacing the ice plant would be $284,340.
The RDFFG and Curling Club Steering Committee held a public information meeting May 8, 2017, presenting key details of the study including the benefitting service area, method of taxation, as well as capital and operating costs.
At the meeting, some people expressed concern about the lack of detail regarding the club’s annual operating budget, whether or not grants could be secured annually, and the uncertainty around exactly what level taxpayers would be on the hook for — in a worst case scenario — if the Club is ever in a spot where it can no longer maintain the facility.
The facility was built in 1991 primarily with grant funding, donations, and by volunteers and was built for the sole purpose of housing a curling rink, according to the study.