An amended lease agreement between the City of Wetaskiwin and the Wetaskiwin Curling Club was approved in a 6-1 vote by city council during it’s Nov. 9 meeting.
This follows a discussion council had at it’s Oct. 26 meeting, where discussions were tabled.
Coun. Patricia MacQuarrie was opposed to approving the lease agreement. “I have grave reservations with this agreement.”
“My concern is around the fairness in which we act as a city with all our user groups. The curling club has been operating with amnesty for the city taxpayers for 10 years. We need to be equatable in the manner with which we set our user rates,” she added.
Councillors Tyler Gandam and Bert Horvey were opposed to the initial tabling on Oct. 26. However, some members of council decided it wanted exclusivity to the curling club of the upper mezzanine taken out of the agreement. They also wanted the curling club and gymnastics club to pay the same rate per square foot. Both will now pay $2.25 per square foot.
The agreement council saw on Nov. 9 meeting came back with those amendments. “We’ve addressed it with the curling club. They were okay with the costs and adjustments of space,” said city director of community services Kevin Lucas.
However, the newly approved agreement gives the curling club exclusive rights to the concession area. There was a motion to have that changed but all councillors except MacQuarrie were opposed and it stands.
MacQuarrie says she wanted it clearly defined in the agreement the gymnastics club could have access to that space for its annual tournament, which is held at a time when the curling club is not active.
Coun. Joe Branco felt the agreement was fine the way it was worded and the gymnastics club should rent the space from the curling club as needed. That way an amendment would not restrict the gymnastics club to one time of the year.
Horvey says having the gymnastics club sublease the concession area from the curling club will be a good opportunity for the groups to demonstrate goodwill.
“It’s available for lease if the gymnastics club wishes to approach it,” Coun. Wayne Neilson agreed.
However, MacQuarrie felt the gymnastics club should not have to negotiate each time they wanted to sublease the concession and by amending the agreement it would take away that step by already having negotiations between the two groups in place.
“But it’s us directing the curling club … we’re saying you have no say in this,” said Gandam.
Coun. June Boyda added it is good business sense to have the concession open to all groups but also said the agreement should be left as is, to see how the groups can work together.
MacQuarrie also made the motion the next time the city works out an agreement with the curling club, rates should be set at fair market value comparable with other similar curling clubs in central Alberta. “I would expect this to be phased in over a number of years.”
“This agreement grants the curling club use of ice space for 24 hours a day, for six months a year for approximately $10,000 a year. This is $2.25 a square foot for ice space, all utilities included. This is a quarter what market value is for this type of facility. We decide our other user rates based on a complete market value.”
“Just for information, a youth club using the ice at the arena uses nine hours of ice a week for six months for $22,000, more than double, for nine hours ice usage than the adult group is getting … and have the ability to generate revenue off that ice,” she added.
The motion passed with Branco and Mayor Bill Elliot opposed.
Gandam feels market comparison should not only dictate what the club will pay but what can be charged and increased reasonably. “If we don’t have a market here that can support those increases what’s the point?”
Elliot says he felt the follow up motion was not necessary because it can be dealt with in due time.
However, MacQuarrie says this way the curling club has lots of time to adjust to the direction of council. “I would expect this to be phased in over a number of years.”
In a following discussion the gymnastics club lease was approved unanimously.