In the story ‘Council may increase user fees of the Lakeside Multiplex’ published in the Lakes District News’ Dec. 2 issue, Burns Lake council had discussed an increase in the recreation department’s budget.
The recreation department’s budget significantly increased after the village opened the Lakeside Multiplex and took over the curling rink in 2014, increasing maintenance and staffing and expanding services for the community.
In 2014, the curling rink became a revenue generator for the village, generating $14,665. However, as revenues increased, so did expenditures.
The curling rink expenses were $53,718 in 2014, generating a deficit of $39,053. A deficit of approximately $45,000 is expected for 2015.
“I think the public would be surprised to learn of that amount,” said Burns Lake Councillor John Illes during the last council meeting.
The Burns Lake curling club currently has 59 members.
Among the options for reducing the deficit, staff suggested that council could offer the curling club back control of the curling rink.
Sheryl Worthing, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Burns Lake, explained that this is only a consideration and has not been approved by council. In addition, she said the village has not had any discussions with the curling club regarding this proposal.
In March of 2012, the village received a $2.4 million grant from the province to connect the ice arena and curling rink and build the Lakeside Multiplex. It was then determined that due to safety compliance regulations, the village must retain the operations of the curling rink, freeing the curling club of all responsibility.
Worthing explained that once the ammonia plant has been replaced, however, safety compliance regulations will be removed, allowing the village to offer the curling club back control of the curling rink.
“We are simply looking at many different options to become cost-neutral,” she said.
In order for the curling rink to be cost-neutral, curling rink fees would have to increase 330 per cent, according to a village staff report.
Considering that the village has recently increased all of the recreation department’s user fees by 10 per cent, another substantial increase in user fees would arguably be viewed negatively by community members, added the report. This could result in reduced memberships and rentals.