Residents say no to tax-supported Curling Club in Valemount

Dianne St. Jean
Dianne St. Jean photo
Dianne St. Jean photo

The results from the Valemount Curling Club assent vote on Sept. 30 were close, but at the end, the answer was “no” to sustaining the Club through property taxation.

With 161 votes for No, and 124 for Yes, means there were less than 300 votes cast.

The low turnout for the vote was foreshadowed by equally low turnouts at two previous public meetings hosted by the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George on the issue.

The first meeting was held at the Valemount Community Hall on May 8, with presentations by the Steering Committee in charge of looking at options for the future of the Curling Club.

The club had approached the Regional District to look into a feasibility study concerning operating and possible capital costs.

The result was a recommendation to establish a taxable service in which the Regional District would own the facility and take over ownership of the land, while the Curling Club would be responsible for all operational costs and aspects of the facility. An annual contributory grant would be given toward maintenance costs and to assist with necessary upgrades.

The second meeting was held at the Curling Club on September 14, giving the public another opportunity to ask questions and express any concerns they might have on the proposal. That meeting was also very low attended.

The low attendance implies that people had either already made up their minds on which side of the issue they stood, felt they were already sufficiently informed, or simply were not personally interested or felt it did not matter which way the vote went.

Currently the Curling Club building sits on land owned and leased to them by the Village of Valemount, and is funded by revenue from events, membership and fundraising which, say club representatives, is insufficient to keep them going. Establishing a taxable service, they said, was the best solution to the problem.

In comments made at the initial public meeting, and through letters to the editor, members of the public that were not in agreement with placing the Curling Club under a property tax burden stated that it is the responsibility of the Club to look for ways to increase their revenue, one suggestion being to begin with an increase in membership fees. A main concern was that there is no guarantee as to the level of taxation taxpayers may have to shoulder should the Club be unable to maintain the facility of its own accord in the future.

At presentations given at both meetings, and through media, Korie Marshall, speaking on behalf of the Curling Club, stated that they cannot see the Club being able to sustain itself and do the needed repairs and upgrades without assistance.

In a statement given after the voting results, Marshall says, “A big thank you to everyone who supported the club, and came out to vote yes. And an even bigger thank you to the volunteers who have built and kept this Club alive for so many years, especially our president Diana Smith. It was her energy and passion that kept us going this long. And thanks to Regional District staff who helped us give this a good shot. We are of course very disappointed with the results, and will be meeting this week to decide our next steps.”

“Without a miracle,” Marshall adds, “we'll likely be closing the building.”

What happens to the Valemount Curling Club after this, then, remains to be seen and at this point, appears to be anybody’s guess.

(At the time of sending the paper to print, results were still considered unofficial until Wednesday, Oct. 4, 4:00 pm.)