A delegation from the Rossland Curling Society (RCS) attended council on June 20 to request a review of a recent “punitive” increase in its lease.
Faced with a lease increase of 30 per cent, an RCS delegation comprised of president Mike Amann and Treasurer Zak Nixon presented key concerns to council on Monday.
“We’ve had some difficult times recently with COVID and the impact its had on all of our activities, but the curling club it has affected us as well,” said Amann. “We’ve had a significant reduction in membership from pre-COVID time to the last couple of years.”
At an April meeting, council voted to increase the curling clubs rental by 30 per cent to $28,639 per year in a 5-year contract. The amount is about $4,000 more per year to cover costs of running the facility, in addition to an annual increase proportional to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The number was based on the Recreation and Culture Cost Recovery Report that indicated the curling cost of the arena complex make up about 35 per cent of the operating costs.
In the past, increases were generally tied to the CPI. In 2020 and 2021 the city increased the lease agreement by five per cent to help cover costs of a new chiller and in line with increased rates for other arena users.
The delegation pointed out that there was little the city staff had to do at the curling rink, and most duties were done by curling volunteers.
The society’s presentation indicated the potential increase in curling costs depending on the number of members and sheets curled.
The society also compared it to other men’s clubs in Trail, Castlegar and Grand Forks whose rates vary. Last season a Rossland curler paid $170 for the season, and on average, $10.63 per game; compared to $330 per year and $15 per game in Grand Forks; $225 and $9.78 in Trail; and $260 and $11.30 in Castlegar.
However, with the 30 per cent increase, Rossland fees would increase to $272 per year, and $15.11 per game with an increase from 16 to 18 games played.
Amann said they had approached city staff to try to clarify the numbers but have not received a satisfactory reply.
“We would like city council to revisit our lease agreement on that basis,” said Amann. “We still have not received those numbers from the recreation department to clarify or help us understand where the breakdown came from, as such we’re unable to agree to this lease until we have that information.”
Council questioned whether there was the possibility of accommodating more members to share costs and also asked what would RCS consider a reasonable hike?
“Prices do go up, but 30 per cent is punitive,” said Nixon. “Two to five per cent is reasonable, a bit excessive when we are taking a loss in membership, but two to five per cent in the first year is reasonable.”
Acting Mayor Andy Morel said he understood the curling clubs argument but added that the city facilities have significant operational and capital costs that should not be completely subsidized.
Morel thanked the delegation and said council and staff will consider their request.