The Fort Rupert Curling Club. (North Island Gazette file photo)

The Fort Rupert Curling Club. (North Island Gazette file photo)

COVID-19: Curling club’s bills to be paid by District of Port Hardy

The COVID-19 Restart Fund is intended to ensure that there is a smooth recovery

The Fort Rupert Curling Club (FRCC) will be getting a helping hand financially from the District of Port Hardy.

A staff report written by Chief Administrative Officer Heather Nelson-Smith was up for discussion at council’s April 27 meeting, where she noted that the FRCC operates the curling club on behalf of the district.

“After council approved COVID relief for hydro and propane charges for the Port Hardy Lions Club, staff reached out to to the FRCC to see if there would be a similar request given that the FRCC did not operate for the majority of 2020,” stated Nelson-Smith in her report, adding, “This is being brought forward for discussion with council, as the facility is owned by the district and the service club who operate the building were unable, due to public health orders, to facilitate the use of the facility to the same degree as has been done in the past. The revenues from events are used to offset the costs for utilities.”

Nelson-Smith noted the COVID-19 Restart Fund is intended to ensure that there is a smooth recovery. “The loss of revenues has been allocated from these funds to ensure that the district operations, which did not diminish because of the pandemic, still operated without loss. The FRCC are also feeling the affects of the diminished revenues and are unable to control these types of expenditures.”

The FRCC submitted a request to council to cover 100 per cent of the hydro for 2020 and to discuss how the district may be able to assist with 2021 charges as well.

The district’s Grant in Aid policy states council cannot waive fees that are set in bylaw, “therefore the utility reimbursement request has been removed from the total request.”

Nelson-Smith’s report concluded council should provide relief to the FRCC by using the COVID Restart Fund to offset the club’s expenses due to reduced revenues resulting from the pandemic in the amount of $9,842.72 for 2020 for hydro charges, and also to support the FRCC for the 2021 year in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for hydro charges.

Mayor Dennis Dugas then asked Nelson-Smith to speak about the financial statements that were submitted by the FRCC.

Nelson-Smith said the FRCC’s fiscal year actually runs April to March, and due to the district currently having a bylaw that states the district can’t waive fees that are set in bylaws, “I’ve excluded [water and sewer fees] from this request and included only the hydro charges in the recommendation.”

Coun. Fred Robertson asked if they can still use the COVID Restart Fund to pay the water and sewer fees.

“What we could do is pay the Fort Rupert Curling Club for that amount, it’s just we wouldn’t be able to waive [the fees],” Nelson-Smith clarified, adding they could make a change to the recommendation in her report to add $988 to cover water and sewer costs.

“To include that would be the good thing to do,” confirmed Robertson.

Coun. Leightan Wishart then made a motion to approve the recommendation in the report.

“Is your motion for as presented in the staff report, or is it different?” asked Coun. Janet Dorward.

“As presented in staff report,” stated Wishart, who then said he wanted the $980 added in for water and sewer fees.

Dorward seconded the motion.

“Any more discussion?” asked Dugas.

Coun. Pat Corbett-Labatt spoke up and asked Nelson-Smith how much the district ended up paying the Lions Club to cover hydro and propane costs.

It was just under $11,000 per year,” confirmed Nelson-Smith.

“So with this motion we would increase the 2021 amount as well to offset the water and sewer, too?” asked Corbett-Labatt.

Nelson-Smith confirmed the district would increase the amount of funding this year to $10,822 and then the maximum amount provided for the 2021 year would be $11,000.

Can I have a vote,” asked Dugas.

Hands went up in the air and the motion was approved.

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