Support but no money for new multi-purpose facility proposed by Huntsville Curling Club

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Huntsville Council has agreed to donate lands, cover the site servicing costs, and make improvements to shared parking if the Huntsville Curling Club (HCC) decides to move forward with a new build. But councillors would not commit to any additional funds for the project.

The resolution was part of budget discussions held on February 5 at Town Hall.

According to a handout distributed by staff at the meeting, the club was hoping the Town would agree to debenture about $4.2 million dollars associated with constructing a new multi-purpose facility, which would also serve as the new home for the Huntsville Curling Club. The request was initially brought before council at its November 26, 2018 meeting.

The club’s vision was to build the new facility at a cost of approximately $5.2 million. Two million would be covered by the club—it would contribute one million up front and pay back the other million to the Town at $50,000 a year over 20 years. The plan called on the Town to contribute the rest, minus any available grants. The club also requested that the Town put up the land, water and sewer servicing costs, and waive development fees and municipal taxes for the new building. The lands requested would be located at McCulley-Robertson Recreation Park or an agreeable equivalent, such as, for example, the Fowler Pit. The Town would also be requested to improve and maintain the shared parking facilities.

The design and building project would be led by the Huntsville Curling Club, which would manage and operate the building including the rental of space as well as delivering services to other sports clubs, council heard during budget discussions.

The HCC would also carry a reserve fund to manage all capital requirements over the debenture period and, again, partner with the Town to access any provincial or federal grants available. The plan would also require that the municipality start flowing funds to the project as early as 2020/2021.  At the end of the 20-year debenture, the building would be owned by the Huntsville Curling Club and any revenue from rentals would go back to the club, council heard.

Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison told council that the club wanted an answer by the end of this month, in order to make a decision about its future. The club is considering a new build or pumping money into its existing facilities.

Councillor Tim Withey wondered if approving the club’s request would make it difficult to accommodate other user groups also hoping for upgrades. “There’s probably more opportunity with all the property out there [at McCulley]that we could fit in some other asks as well and make a [bigger]rec complex,” he said.

Aitchison agreed. “I think you’re right, there’s definitely a need for more sports-related infrastructure and we’ve got to plan out what that is, for sure,” he said, adding that is something the Town’s Community Services Committee is working on, but they will not have an answer by the end of the month as requested by the club.

In the end, council agreed to commit to the land, site servicing costs and parking improvements for the project—but no funds.

Huntsville Councillor Jonathan Wiebe also suggested that if the club were to decide to stay at its current location, at least for now, the Town could play a role in supporting the club with current maintenance issues. Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano said that in meeting with the club its members indicated that in terms of their current location, they must “love it or list it.”

You can find the club’s presentation proposing a multi-purpose facility to the municipality in November 2018 here.

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2 Comments

  1. This represents a huge ask in the face of the Town’s other budget commitments. There are already the King William Street forcemain and roadworks; the McCulley ball diamonds safety improvements; payments to the successful streetscaping bidder (2020 construction); payment toward the Main Street bridge improvements (2020 construction); and $3.5M for roads and bridges (plus a commitment for this budget to continue increasing to $4.5M).
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    I agree with the Mayor and Councillor Wiebe that McCully Park is the logical location: If that was the case (in the future), would there still be space for an outdoor soccer pitch; soccer being far better as an outdoor sport?
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    I would certainly not pour a large portion of their $1M into the existing Club: Everything about the existing situation (save the central location) is far from ideal. Everybody has to wait in line for funds, and the baseball players have just been waiting longer. Also, to ask the Town to waive development charges and municipal taxes in addition to their other contributions seems excessive.
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    A payout of $3.2M, in addition to a $1M debenture, would absolutely destroy Huntsville’s AAA rating. An earlier approach to Council (and a staged-construction plan) would likely lead to a better result in the future.

  2. The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly. The Town could have given the curling club this same answer at least 5 years ago if not more.

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