Yes, the numbers are in, but unfortunately the numbers quoted in the story are a little misleading. The number $21.90 per $100,000 property value comes from the wording that you’ll see when you go to vote, and it is an average. But that value will be applied differently to different types of property. For residential property, it will mean $13.40 per $100,000, which means if your home is assessed at $200,000, you would pay $26.80 per year towards keeping the curling rink open. For business property, the amount per $100,000 is $32.83. The numbers for other property types are listed in the information mail-out you may have received from the Regional District this week, and in the Feasibility Study which is available on the Regional District website. I can give anyone a copy if you can’t find it, or want a printed copy.
Where will that money go? If you vote yes, the yearly budget for the service is a maximum of $64,350 – that is less than VCTV’s annual budget, and less than the recent increase for the skating rink’s budget. Over a third of that will stay with the Regional District to pay off loans for the required building improvements to meet the new building code, and to create an operating reserve. One mistake in the story – the new ice plant is expected to cost $125,000 (not $100,000), and that is expected to be covered by Community Works funding that is available to the Regional District, if you say yes to the taxable service. That cost for the new ice plant will not come from your property taxes.
The rest of the annual budget, $40,800, can go to the Curling Club to cover annual operational expenses for the building – that includes property taxes and utilities to the Village, electricity, heating/propane, insurance and ongoing maintenance costs for the building.
Volunteers will still entirely operate the building as we do currently. For example, it took approximately 120 volunteer hours to install the ice last year, not including maintenance before each game, and we’ll continue to do that. We’ll also continue to spend countless hours each year on cleaning, maintenance of the building, fundraising for the club, and everything else we’ve been doing to keep the club afloat.
Our “membership” of 30 people might sound low, but that is also a bit misleading – that number is how many regularly curl each week during the season. Members pay $100 in dues to curl one night a week, or $200 if they want to curl two nights a week. We aim for a 4-month season, but recently it has depended a lot on the weather (our plant is very inefficient, and desperately needs replacing) and the schedules of our very busy volunteers. We have seen new members join in each of the last few years, including people who have just moved here and those who have just recently learned to play, and we welcome anyone to come watch or give it a try. It is fun, and open to people of all abilities, and we’re all willing to help you learn the game. And anyone can play in our bonspiels, which often draw people from out-of-town.
But we also have 20-30 juniors each year, who pay only $30 to learn to curl in our 6-week program, and the rink is always open to high school students, who use it as part of their exercise and credit programs. We open the building to other organizations who need space to run their programs – we’ve housed the Valemount Food Bank for a number of years, and we offer space to organizations like Kinnickinnickers Family Centre and CBAL for some of their programs (like hip hop dance classes and after-school programs) and we’ve been working to expand those programs, and make better use of a very valuable community space. It’s also a space that can be used for special events (like the Trade Show hosted by the Chamber of Commerce a couple of years ago) or private events like weddings or staff parties. The Club was built by volunteers and grant funding over many years, and we believe it is a valuable asset to the community – we don’t want that asset lost.
We are all taxpayers too – we all pay municipal taxes, whether directly through property we own, or through our rent and our spending on local businesses who pay property taxes. It’s hard to ask you to pay more. But if you vote no, we’ll have to close the building, because we can no longer manage the maintenance costs of such a large facility on a strictly volunteer basis. And if we close the building, all those other opportunities for the community will be lost.
Please feel free to call me if I can help answer any of your questions. My number is 3762.
Chair of the steering committee, and member of the Valemount Curling Club.