MD of Bonnyville council voted unanimously to give the Cold Lake Community Events Centre $1 million at its meeting Wednesday, with the possibility of more to come. Council approved the donation from its 2010 surplus and will consider granting a similar amount in 2011 if the budget allows it.
However, the MD is still trying to balance its 2011 budget, making another grant at this time next year uncertain.
“The Regional Community Development Agreement is still accessible to (the City),” said Reeve Ed Rondeau.
“If they wish to sign that, that would give them probably over $9 million over the next eight years,” he said, in addition to the $1 million council approved.
Rondeau said council planned to make the donation from its 2010 surplus, but that it didn't commit to providing money in 2011. “It's a possibility, and council will have to make that decision at the end of next year.”
The donation matches the contribution of Imperial Oil to the project. Combined with the amount council gave to phase one of the Energy Centre, total money given to the centre is close to what council gave for the construction of the Centennial Centre, which was $2.6 million.
Fundraiser co-ordinator for the Events Centre Armand Gagnier asked council to consider a $3,070,000 donation in September.
“It's clear in my mind that that million dollars… If that million dollars can be scraped up somewhere, we would do it again next year,” said Coun. Fred Bamber, whose Ward 6 borders the city.
“We have to make a commitment that we will seriously consider that for next year and even the following year if we can afford it,” he said after Coun. David Fox motioned to approve the million-dollar donation.
Council would have to make up its deficit from the final budget to be able to make another donation in 2011, said CAO Ryan Poole.
After the decision, Bamber said council should put the money from the unsigned agreement toward the Events Centre for the next two years, which would come to over $3 million.
Rondeau responded that if the MD gave the money from the agreement without the City signing it there would be no reason to sign it.
“I just want to make sure we're not going to blow this on something else when it should be going to them one way or another,” said Bamber.
Coun. Barry Kalinski said it wasn't right to be combining two different issues. “The agreement is one thing. This is a fundraiser for our MD people to build an arena.”
“The one should have nothing to do with the other,” Rondeau said.
Kalinski added that the arena is probably too plush for the needs of MD kids, but that, “It is what it is.”
Rondeau said if MD doesn't get a resource road grant for the Wolf Lake Road it would have to borrow $6-7 million, increasing the deficit to as high as $12 million. Council is currently working to trim down the projected deficit and plans approve the 2011 budget in December.