The Rossland Curling Club is asking the city not to implement a proposed 30 per cent increase to its lease rates starting next season.
President Michael Amann appeared before council last week to make their case after council voted in favour of the increase in April, “which we felt was excessive.”
Amann says the issue is compounded by a drop in membership during the pandemic: they fell from 230 to 164 curlers, and incurred a loss of $9,600 in 2020-21.
“We feel this exorbitant lease increase would force our curling rates to be uncompetitive and too costly, leading to further membership losses,” he says. “We feel this is just too much for our club to absorb.”
In actual dollars, the increase would result in the club paying about $29,000 next season. Additional two per cent increases would follow in the subsequent four years.
The volunteer-run organization presented a variety of scenarios to council, noting that last season a curler in Rossland paid $170 for 16 games, working out to a per-game cost of $10.63. If the increase goes ahead as planned, the amount would grow to $272 per curler per year, although they would get in two more games, for a per-game cost of $15.11.
Amann says if people can curl in Trail for cheaper, they may choose to do so.
Amann also noted curling in Rossland is almost as old as the city itself. The club will mark its 125th anniversary next year.
He says they have been “negotiating with the city for quite some time” on a new lease and are seeking the rationale for a new 65-35 cost split with skating rink users. Previously the split was 75-25.
The curling club would prefer annual increases simply tied to the Consumer Price Index, as they plan to invest in the facility’s infrastructure.
“We’re hoping to get together with the city and negotiate a lease that is fair to both sides,” Amann says, adding he is hopeful they can work something out.
Acting mayor Andy Morel says they are willing to talk to the club about a compromise, but they are faced with a difficult task in trying to pay for the facility’s operation.
“Our concern is it’s a heavily subsidized facility and we would like to get a fair return on the usage of it, thus going after the actual users to request a higher contribution toward its costs,” he says.
Morel acknowledges “there’s been pushback, no question,” but notes it was only a few years ago that the city was contemplating closing the arena altogether.
When they decided to keep it going, it was on the grounds that there was the potential to recoup more income from users “and for them to recognize that their contribution not be as heavily subsidized.”
Morel says as a dual-use facility, the ice-making plant serves both curling and hockey/skating, and they felt the 65-35 split was equitable.