Curling club pleads its case

A new tax law at city hall has the Parksville Curling Club concerned about its future.

A new tax law at city hall has the Parksville Curling Club concerned about its future.

Members of the club made a detailed presentation to city council Monday night, explaining how the disappearance of their tax exemption will cost them about $16,000 a year.

The city changed its permissive tax laws recently after lengthy debates and the input of a citizens advisory council. It means recreation groups like the curling club that were 100 per cent exempt from taxes, now have to pay 50 per cent. The annual tax bill for the curling club is about $33,000.

“We knew this would come up,” said Coun. Sue Powell.

The curling club’s building in Community Park — it served as the city’s arena before Oceanside Place was built — is owned by the Regional District of Nanaimo. Consensus around the table Monday was the aging structure would not be of much use for anything other than a curling facility.

“I can’t see a lot of use for the building if it’s not used in its current state,” said Coun. Marc Lefevbre.

The club’s Terry Miller laid open the club’s books Monday night and spoke about the “active lifestyle” the club promotes, its history of finding “funding from alternative sources” and how its volunteers are the “lifeblood” of the club.”

Miller, with club treasurer Nancy Douglas at his side, explained the club is a non-profit society with about 300 members. As for paid employees, the club has a part-time manager and an ice technician.

The pair explained to council the value the club brings to the community, including local businesses. They presented a letter of support from Tigh-Na-Mara general manager Paul Drummond, who explained his appreciation for the club’s activities, especially the hosting of big events like the provincial championships in a time of year not traditionally busy for the hotel-restaurant sector.

“That (Drummond’s letter) is an example of our value to so many businesses in our community,” said Miller.

Mayor Chris Burger and others explored ideas about how the club could reduce its tax bill and/or mitigate the financial hit, including raising fees to members and getting the building/grounds re-assessed. The city’s portion of the tax bill (at 50 per cent) is about $8,000.

“It might be a combination of factors that resolves this overall,” said Burger, who later said it’s not likely the city will revisit the permissive tax bylaw it developed last year.