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Hurry hard

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, March 2, 2009

HAY RIVER - Despite dire warnings in January, the Hay River Curling Club will make it to the end of the season.

In January, Gary Hoffman - then the club's vice-president and now its interim president - appeared before town council and warned the club might not have enough money to finish the curling season.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Gary Hoffman, interim president of the Hay River Curling Club, says the club will make it to the end of the season financially. - NNSL file photo

Now, Hoffman says the club will make it to the end of the season at the end of March, although there may be outstanding bills left to pay.

"We're paying what we have," he said.

The club has asked the town to re-examine and adjust a lease agreement under which it operates the curling rink.

"I'm hoping the financial situation will be changed," Hoffman said, adding he is optimistic the curling rink will reopen in the fall.

The town's recreation board is currently reviewing the cost-recovery formula used in the lease agreement between the municipality and the club.

However, Mayor Jean-Marc Miltenberger said the rate the town charges the club is as low as it can currently go.

"They are not subject to undue financial distress by the town," he said.

Miltenberger said the onus is on the club and its executive to fundraise and set fees that will allow it to operate.

"The responsibility is with them," he said.

On Feb. 23, town council amended the 22-year-old lease with the club so it could rent out the facilities and thereby raise more money.

Under the lease, the club could already rent out the facilities for curling events, but the amendment permits other activities. The change is targeted at the kitchen.

A Hay River resident has expressed interest in renting the kitchen to make product for a business enterprise until another suitable location can be found.

"They're providing us with another source of revenue," Hoffman said.

However, he said the lease amendment would not solve the club's financial problems.

"It is a minor adjustment at this point," he said, noting that if the kitchen is rented, it might only mean maybe $500 or so a month for the club.

It is also unlikely anyone else would require rental of the facility for anything other than curling.

Hoffman said the amendment is welcomed, but more is needed.

"It's one piece of a large puzzle," he said.

The town owns the facility and pays for heat and power, while the club pays $3,952.50 in monthly rent and covers many expenses.

Under the current arrangement, the town aims to recover 50 per cent of what it spends on the curling rink, but doesn't come anywhere near that.