Saskatoon curling clubs asking for help with property taxes

Saskatoon's four curling clubs say they want to use the money for facility upkeep and modernization. File / Global News

With the curling season wrapping up for another year, Saskatoon curling clubs are asking for a helping hand from city hall.

Curling Saskatoon has asked the city to re-direct their property taxes to be used for facility upkeep and modernization, or to subsidize the city’s four clubs.

“Curling rinks nowadays, they’re not-for-profit, we don’t make a whole pile of money,” Nutana Curling Club general manager Kory Kohuch said. “You look back 20 or 30 years ago, the costs to operate a curling rink have gone up about 600 per cent but revenues have only maybe doubled.”

Kohuch addressed the city’s committee on planning, development and community services on Monday formally requesting the partnership.

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Many of the buildings are around 50 years old and require plenty of maintenance, according to Kohuch.

“The ice chilling plant that cools the floor, to replace that costs $100,000. The curling rocks only last so long. A set of curling rocks on an eight-sheet curling rink, you’re looking at around $120,000,” Kohuch said. “It’s a lot of money and if any of these things go, they’re crippling. That’s where we’re trying to somehow have a reserve, have this money just to be able to help us with those kind of things.”

In total, the four clubs pay roughly $130,000 per year in property taxes.

According to Curl Saskatoon, 95 per cent of curling rinks in Canada are owned or subsidized by the communities they’re based in.

City councillors voted to further explore the viability of the situation, with a decision to come down at a later date. The city does have partnerships in place with organizations like local soccer, and the Saskatoon Minor Football Field.

Curling Saskatoon is aware a tax deferral will affect the city financially, but Kobuch believes the state of curling in Saskatoon continues to grow, and clubs continue to draw larger events to the city.

“It’s not a whole bunch of money considering the four curling clubs bring in around $3.4 million per year in economic impact to the city,” Kohuch said.

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He added the Canadian Olympic curling trials in 2021 would bring close to $20 million in economic impact for the city if Saskatoon were to win the bid for the tournament.

Some curling clubs try to generate revenue in the off-season by using the rink for other events like flea-markets or weddings, but Kohuch notes zoning regulations limit some clubs in what they’re allowed to host within their building. The zoning is something the city also plans to look into while making a decision on a tax deferral.

The city’s decision will impact the Nutana, CN, Granite and Sutherland curling clubs.

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