Against staff recommendations, Armstrong council begrudgingly agreed to give money it doesn’t have to a pair of sports organizations hosting provincial championships.
North Okanagan Minor Hockey is hosting the 2016 B.C. Tier 4 Pee Wee championships in Armstong and Enderby in March, and requested $1,500 to help with ice costs.
The Armstrong Fish and Game Association is hosting the B.C. Indoor Archery Championships in Armstrong in March 2016 and April 2017. It requested $2,000 (hoping for $1,000 each from the city and Township of Spallumcheen) to help cover user fees at the Hassen Arena.
After considerable discussion, council voted 4-3 twice to award each organization $500 (with Lance McGregor, Ron (Sully) O’Sullivan and Steven Drapala opposed both times).
The archery donation is only for the 2016 event.
“The city considers grant requests during annual budget deliberations in April,” said city chief financial officer Terry Martens.
“Since these events take place prior to that time frame, funding decisions would be made in advance of other grant requests being considered.
“Pre-approval of these requests would reduce available funding for other applications. As a result, staff is recommending against approval of the request.”
Chief administrative officer Melinda Stickney pointed out to council before the voting that there are no remaining funds in 2015 to use towards the requests, and cautioned council when considering requests that are linked to reducing facility rental fees.
“No matter which way we go, we would like to end the conversation by having staff come forward with a policy that would keep up from having to make these one-off decisions in these circumstances,” said Coun. Shirley Fowler, chairperson of the city’s finance committee, who made the motions to support both requests.
Coun. Paul Britton said a policy was made to prevent Armstrong Spallumcheen Parks and Recreation from reducing fees after being inundated with requests to do so. That led user groups to come directly to city and township councils for request.
“I’m kind of torn between it,” said Britton, who supported the requests.
“We as both communities need to get together and say if it (funding request) doesn’t come through grant-in-aid, they can’t keep coming to us. We have to make it clear that coming to us has to stop.”
Spallumcheen council, which also has a grant-in-aid policy, voted in favour of donating $500 to North Okanagan Minor Hockey for the provincial championships.
A request from the fish and game association has not come before township council.
Britton said provincial championship tournaments rarely come to the city.
“I’m sure we’ll find the money but when groups bid for these programs, they need to also put their own budgets in place and not expect taxpayers to come up again with funding outside grants-in-aid,” he said.
The city hopes the fish and game association will seek a grant-in-aid request for funding for the 2017 provincials.