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Proposed grant would give much-needed relief to Saskatoon curling, sports organizations

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WATCH: A possible grant program from the city could be much needed relief for Saskatoon curling clubs and some other recreation and sports organizations – Nov 10, 2021

A proposed grant program from the City of Saskatoon could be much-needed relief for curling clubs and some other recreation and sports organizations.

The Granite Curling Club in Saskatoon said they’ve been hit hard by the pandemic.

The club said paying their property taxes was a struggle before, but now, it’s an even bigger problem.

“For a lot of the clubs it’s the second largest business expense that we have,” said general manager Steve Turner.

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He said the curling club owns the building and land it’s on. As a non-profit he said it’s harder to keep up with the $42,000 in property tax each month.

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On top of that, the club’s taxes went up after property reassements this summer.

“One of the clubs went up by 66 per cent,” said Turner.

“This club, we have a property tax at over $50,000 a year, one of the others is over $80,000 a year.”

The proposed grant would help Saskatoon curling clubs and some other recreation and sports organizations.

It would provide a full city and library tax abatement, along with education property tax. The grant would be up to $200,000 a year total.

Around six to eight city organizations are eligible.

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“You need to be a non-profit organization,” explained Ward 7 city councillor Mairin Loewen.

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“You need to own your own facility, and you need to be offering recreational opportunities in the community.”

Turner said the curling club was closed for 11 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, something that didn’t help their financial situation.

“It’s obviously been a difficult couple of years,” Loewen said, speaking about curling clubs across Saskatoon.

“Even pre-pandemic there were concerns about the ability to be sustainable and to continue to offer recreation space to the community.”

Struggles across Western Canada

The city said recreation and sports organizations like curling clubs are struggling across the West.

“Based on the information we got from other municipalities, I would say they are facing the similar challenges across Western Canada that our curling clubs are facing here,” said Andrew Roberts, director of recreation and community development.

Granite’s club was built in 1965. After so many years, Turner said it would be nice to put some money toward upgrades.

“The clubs do age, and equipment ages, and there’s expenses to that and we’re needing to do that and look after that all by ourselves,” he said.

“This will be an opportunity to reinvest into a club and make sure we’re going to be here for the long haul.”

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Turner said curling clubs draw visitors, and their wallets, to the city. For example, Saskatoon is hosting the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials starting Nov. 20.

The eight-day trails are expected to bring in more than $10 million into the local economy.

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Turner said helping clubs, and similar organizations, in turn helps the city down the line.

“It’s definitely a give-and-take relationship,” he said.

The grant will go to city council for approval at their meeting later this month.

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