Members of Town of Bonnyville council have made it very clear they're not prepared to show favouritism or make exceptions when it comes to user groups at the Centennial Centre.
At the regular meeting of council on Feb. 22, council rejected three separate requests — two by minor hockey organizations and one from a First Nations organization hosting an upcoming youth conference — to waive or reduce rates at the Centennial Centre, which will be hosting all three events.
Members of council made it very clear taxpayers from both the Town of Bonnyville and MD of Bonnyville already provided substantial support to the Centennial Centre through subsidized ice fees and additional measures.
Coun. Gene Sobolewski said the C2 “needs to recover funds” and operate like a business because it is a very expensive building to own and operate.
“If we offer reductions to the C2, then the centre will be approaching the MD and Town for funding,” said Sobolewski. “I don't think we should be asking the C2 to reduce fees.”
One local organization recently made an official request to not only be able to use the C2 free of charge for an event, but also wanted C2 staff to set up chairs and lights and they didn't want to pay for that either, said Sobolewski.
Coun. Ray Prevost said it's difficult to turn down requests by minor sports organizations and community groups, but the reality is local taxpayers already heavily subsidize the operation of the Centennial Centre and the rates being charged are fair and competitive.
“The board (of directors at the C2) has adopted a policy of no more breaks … no more deals for anybody,” said Prevost. “My feeling is this policy has to be the same for everybody.
“Personally, I'm against groups coming to us (Town council) and asking for a handout. It shouldn't happen. We subsidize everything as it is.”
If some of these user groups would offer to do community work such as clean local parks or shovel snow at local seniors' homes, Prevost said he might have a different opinion, but for community organizations to continue to ask for reductions of rates to use the C2 bothers him.
Following the brief discussion, members of council voted unanimously to reject the waiving or reduction of fees to the three local organizations who made requests.
The Bonnyville Canadian Native Friendship Centre was asking for a monetary donation or discount in ice rental rates for the first annual Lakeland Friendship Centre Hockey Tournament the weekend of April 2-3, while the Tribal Chief and Family Services East Society requested the Town waive the $4,000 cost of rental at the C2 for a youth conference scheduled for March 9-11.
The Bonnyville Minor Hockey and Figure Skating Club also requested a $200 per month sponsorship to go towards office space for one year at the C2, for a total of $2,400.
While it's difficult to turn down community organizations who are struggling to make financial ends meet, Prevost reiterated Town and MD councils and taxpayers already heavily subsidize the Centennial Centre and no further favours can be done to help them moving forward.