Saskatoon curling clubs seek financial support to survive
SASKATOON -- The City of Saskatoon has made public its report which would address the financial supports requested by the four curling clubs in the city; the Granite Curling Club, Sutherland Curling Club, CN Curling Club, and Nutana Curling Club.
Granite Curling Club general manager Steve Turner says he’s disappointed in the lack of involvement the clubs had in the process.
“We had a couple brief meetings,” he said.
Turner says the city asked each club basic questions as to their financial impacts and percentages of overall expenses.
“We provided that information and then sat and waited,” he said.
“We just get to a point where this week they say ‘Hey the reports all done, can we meet to talk about it all’, but it's too late have any input on it.”
In an email statement, Community Services general manager Lynne Lacroix said meetings were hosted with the group to get their feedback on the potential approaches, which formed the basis of the various options presented in the report.
“Administration was tasked to gather all the feedback and formulate options, listing the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options, and has made a recommendation based on the technical and financial review of the options. Committee and Council can choose any other option in the report or direct Administration in any other way.”
The report puts forward four options which will go before City Council on Monday.
One of them is to maintain the status quo.
The others include:
Create a property class for curling clubs that would lower their property taxes
Turner says the report fails to include that all four curling clubs recently received massive property tax increases with the latest assessments.
“The Granite, for example, received over a 25% property tax increase. So we're looking at additional $11,000 worth of property tax,” he said.
Turner says option one, which would see curling clubs “taxed at a residential rate as opposed to a commercial rate” would amount to practically no savings after their property tax increase.
Provide a temporary tax abatement, with suggestion of two years
Turner says a two year tax abatement would be fantastic for those two years, but points out it wouldn’t do anything for them over the next 12 months, as it wouldn’t take affect until 2022.
“And in reality it's a bandaid,” he said. “Yes it would be great in the interim, but going forward ... we will be right back to where we started two years later.”
Develop a Recreation and Sport Grant Program, similar to the Culture Grant Program
Turner says developing a Recreation and Sport Grant Program is the best of the three options, but it doesn’t address the four clubs’ current situation.
“The idea of that, and if that's approved on Monday, it would be for the 2022-2023 year,” he said. “We've got to get from here to that point.”
“There really is a lack of urgency in it, like the recommendation is to kind of, the best case scenario is us seeing an impact on this in potentially a year from now, and it's like, we've been working on this since 2018. A year could be too late.”
Turner suggests a hybrid of the ideas would be the best route for the city’s four clubs.
“What if we could get a break on our taxes? What if they could prevent the increase for us at very least or, 50 per cent, just to help us get to that point where we can develop this grant and abatement program for the long term solution,” he said.
“That right now is so far out in the future.”