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Bonnyville Bingo request "grey area" for MD

MD of Bonnyville council defeated a motion to provide financial assistance to the Bonnyville Bingo Association. Photo by Robynne Henry.

BONNYVILLE – The Bonnyville Bingo Association won’t be receiving financial support from the MD of Bonnyville.

Council defeated a motion to provide $17,000 to the organization to assist with covering unanticipated costs from renovations to their new building.

Caroline Palmer, general manager of planning and community services for the MD, noted during council’s Feb. 19 committee meeting, the request was a “grey area.”

“This is a hard one because at arm’s length, they’re representing non-profit organizations. In order for them to move forward to provide the platform for bingos that do give the opportunity for these community groups to make money, it fits and kind of doesn’t with the (community action grant) for that.”

In January, a representative from the bingo association made a presentation to the MD outlining why they needed the money after their previous application was denied in the fall of 2019.

When their lease expired at the Bonnyville Agriplex, the group settled on a new location that required renovations before they could move in. The $140,000 loan they had secured from the bank only covered a portion of the costs after the contractors went over budget during construction, and the association had to take a cut out of the groups’ profits in order to cover their expenses.

Coun. Dana Swigart was in favour of providing the funding due to the positive impacts Bonnyville Bingo has on other organizations in the area. 

“There’s a ton of groups out there that benefit from that and if they can’t go forward… if they have to shut down because of this, there’s a lot of groups that make their money this way and it’s recreation for a lot of people.”

Coun. Marc Jubinville agreed, “What they’re doing is they’re helping to raise a lot of money for these not-for-profit groups, and it creates entertainment for some people… Not everybody plays hockey or has the ability to play actual sports. It’s a form of recreation.”

Although Coun. Ben Fadeyiw thought the support the Bonnyville Bingo gives is great, he wasn’t in favour of providing the money.

“I think it could have been better controlled when… construction was going on,” he stated.

Reeve Greg Sawchuk would rather the groups that utilize bingo for fundraising make presentations to council to request financial support. 

“This is towards an association, which is at arm’s length giving back to groups that we know we want to support, (but) I’d rather see a group come in front of us asking for something directly as opposed to somebody who’s doing it on their behalf.”

The Nouvelle reached out to the bingo association but they were unable to comment before our deadline.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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