By Cassie Weiss
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Redcliff Curling Club is feeling the heat as they contemplate closing their doors for good.
Attending the Nov. 25 Redcliff Town Council meeting, three ladies pleaded their case, letting the council know just how important the club was to the town.
“Our purpose here is to make you aware of the issues we are having, and those we foresee in the near future,” said Linda Asham, member of the curling club’s executive.
“As it is we may not make it to the end of the year and may not be able to open next year. We want to save our curling club and we want to make sure you understand how important it is to us.”
According to Asham, the club has been around since the mid 1960’s, providing ice time to the Redcliff and Ralston School’s, as well as to citizens and those looking for an event venue.
“We saw this coming and we’ve been trying to do some things to raise money,” said Asham, who explained that despite fundraising efforts the cost is simply too high.
Mostly operated by volunteers, the club has applied to various grants, but due to their lack of funds, they cannot apply to the matching grants, which could possibly help them out the most.
Sitting at 104 members, Asham said the club is always trying to do things to gain more, but a lot of people have busy lives and the number just doesn’t seem to want to climb.
“We’ve increased our fee to our curlers, though we still have the cheapest fees in the area. Problem is that we don’t want to raise the fees too much and lose curlers.”
Already feeling the affects of the budget, the club opened a month late and the feeling is they won’t be making it to March, their usual season end.
“We have two to three raffle fundraisers, but those aren’t always so successful. We also do a casino every 18 months, but that money doesn’t even quite cover the utilities.”
With the utility costs sitting around $5,000 a month, Asham stated that is their biggest bill to date, the one that is killing the club slowly.
“We’ve raised food and beverage costs, we’ve done sponsorship drives. We have three major bonspiels and five smaller ones, to try and raise our membership.”
Despite all these efforts, the club is still struggling, and as a last straw they turned to the Town.
“We aren’t sure how you can help, but we are hoping you have an idea for us. In the short term there are taxes, our insurance [which is about $6,000], utilities, etc. In the long term, maybe there is a way you can see our building fitting under your umbrella some how. We are afraid if we don’t open next year we will lose the people we do have. They will go to other communities or stop curling all together.”
With the current membership fee sitting at $175, while Medicine Hat’s sits at $300, Dwight Kilpatrick, councilor, asked if it was necessary to have the lower membership fee be so drastically lower.
According to Mavis Martin, president of the Redcliff Curling Club, raising membership fees any more would cause the membership to drop by at least half.
“The majority of our members are from Medicine Hat. If we raise the fee any more it won’t be worth the drive out to Redcliff.”
Stating that already one bonspiel has been cancelled, the club should be making about $50,000 to operate in a six-month period.
Although council stated there was nothing they could do at that exact moment, a motion was made to take the issue to administration, who would look into the club and their revised budget and bring something back to a future council meeting.