In the Lakes District News Dec. 2/15 edition, Councilor John Illes is quoted to say that the Burns Lake Curling Club (BLCC) has been subsidized in 2014 to the tune of $39,000 and is budgeted to be subsidized $45,000 in 2015.
I think that the Village of Burns Lake (VBL) council is trying to make the BLCC the scapegoat for its own boondoggle. The reason for the situation they are in with the multiplex is purely the fact that they would not listen to reason before they built the complex and they got a huge grant to build it and never considered the fact that there would be large operating costs. I think the problem can be written off as poor insight and very poor management by the VBL.
In the fall of 2006 BLCC had only enough money in the bank to pay the natural gas and hydro bills until the new season began. At that time they would rely on membership dues and lounge revenue to carry them through the winter.
In 2007 a newly elected executive realized that a lot had to be done and that extra funding would be needed to upgrade and in fact save the curling rink, so they went to work.
With a generous grant of about $20,000 from Comfor and a lot of hard work by the executive and a few members, the rink interior was washed down and painted with a mildew resistant paint supplied at cost by Home Hardware. Bud Pye contracting from Vanderhoof lent us some pressure washers and Bill Bueckert lent us his scissor lift and we went to work. We washed the inside down and Bud Pye came from Vanderhoof with a crew of two other men and painted the entire inside of the rink for $500. Bud is a curler and saw our plight. Fred Saul then procured enough new energy efficient lights and the old ones were replaced over the entire ice area. These lights used 1/3 of the power of the old ones and provided much more light.
We then arranged to get rid of the old dilapidated ice plant and hooked into the line from the arena’s two state of the art ice plants and agreed to pay the VBL $2500 per year for the coolant.
The executive then initiated an advertising sign promotion which was well supported by many of the merchants in town. We sold enough signs to create a profit of approximately $8,000 per year and at the same time along with the lights and the painting, brightened up the interior of the rink.
Lakes District Maintenance donated $1000 towards cameras and monitors so the far end of each sheet of ice could be watched from the lounge area.
We also brightened up and painted the upstairs lounge area and made it handicap accessible with a stair lift up the stairs and a wheelchair ramp to access the lower lounge.
This list goes on and on but the bottom line is that we did all these improvements and had probably the nicest and most convenient rink in Northwest B.C. All with volunteers and local donations. After the smoke cleared we had $52,000 in the checking account in 2010/11 with all the improvements paid for in full.
The VBL owned the building and BLCC had it leased from them in 2010 for $1000 for 10 years.
This lease was written by the VBL and signed by both parties. When VBL insisted on taking over the management of the BLCC the lease just disappeared into thin air. Does this maybe hint of the poor management skills and lack of integrity that we are dealing with?
If one counts the number of people using the new part of the complex as compared to the numbers using the curling rink and skating area (which I have done many times) it makes one wonder if the climbing wall and racquet courts are a waste, but for a select few people.
I wrote this letter so the public could hear “the rest of the story,” and there is a lot more.
There is no doubt that there will be answers to this letter but if you are so inclined, I ask you please to first make sure you do your homework, count the users and find out where and why the taxpayers money is really being spent on this multiplex boondoggle.
This is not written on behalf of the BLCC, but on my own initiative.
Yours truly, Gerald Eckland.