The Lumby Curling Club has run up against financial strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now halfway to securing funding from the village and regional district to keep the club running this year.
However, funding or no funding, whether the club can resume play will ultimately be decided by the next announcement from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on sports-related restrictions.
In a letter put before council Monday (Jan. 18), club president Gord MacPherson said the expenses of maintaining the facility and utilities, without income-driving activities such as bonspiels and lounge rentals, have made running the club untenable without support.
Shannon Guenther, treasurer of the curling club, said Lumby council agreed to provide half of the requested $17,365, and the other half could possibly be covered by the Regional District of North Okanagan.
Despite pauses in action and a rejigging of the playing format to suit COVID-19 restrictions, club membership has only declined about 10 per cent this year.
“We were very well received within the community during these times,” Guenther said. “We weren’t sure if we were going to be down one or two teams every day on our league days, but we weren’t.”
Guenther said the club was “a little surprised” when the B.C. government announced in early December that adult curling would be suspended along with a raft of other organized sports until early January; likewise when a second announcement extended the suspension until Feb. 5.
The second and current extension forced the club to consider shutting down for the season, as it costs around $300 per day to keep the facility running.
But with money already spent on resurfacing the ice, Curl BC affiliation fees and insurance, the club decided to submit a letter to the Village of Lumby asking council for support.
“Now that the date had been pushed out another month, we find ourselves unable to continue operations,” the letter stated.
The funding request figure of just over $17,350 was based on the club’s expense records from last year. The breakdown accounts for $8,480 for wages, around $8,700 for utilities and $177 in city taxes.
“It’s huge for us,” Guenther said of the village’s support.
Even with the full $17,000 and change, the club will need to wait for the next update to the current provincial health order on Feb. 5 to see if curling will be allowed to continue.
If the restrictions are eased, Guenther said the club will make up for the eight weeks of lost curling time by extending the season to the end of March.