By Jensen, Randy on June 17, 2020.
Despite some strong voices in opposition on city council, the City of Lethbridge will be making a $1-million bid to host the Tim Horton’s Brier in 2022.
Council voted 7-2 to designate all remaining dollars left over in its major event hosting fund, amounting to $355,000, for the bid, and to make up the remaining $245,000 needed in cash from the council contingencies reserve fund.
The other $400,000, as explained at the June 1 council meeting, would come from “in kind” donations represented by allowing free use of the Enmax Centre and adjoining Lethbridge Soccer Centre for the week of the event.
While most on council felt the 2022 bid was far enough out it wouldn’t be affected by the COVID-19 crisis and may provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the local hotels, gas stations, bars and shopping facilities, Councillors Joe Mauro and Belinda Crowson both voted against the bid.
Mauro voted against it because he said in all his years sitting on city council he was tired of hearing the “same old song and dance,” and having organizations coming to council year after year to ask for taxpayer money for supporting such events and bids without contributing any funds of their own, despite receiving the most benefit at the end of the day.
Crowson said she was opposed because she suspected the current recession Lethbridge and the province was facing would continue well beyond 2022, and she could not support a $1-million bid for a sporting event when local businesses were asking for COVID relief and social programs in Lethbridge remain underfunded when compared to other jurisdictions.
“One of the things we need to look at as council is with finite money where do we put it?” she asked. “I would prefer it goes into social issues than into a curling event. I have done a lot of research into recoveries, and into recessions, and depressions, and I can’t be as optimistic as my colleagues are. The year 2022 will be here in a heartbeat, and I don’t think we will be out of it, and that’s why I voted the way I did.”
Mayor Chris Spearman said the Brier bid was a means of expressing optimism and belief in our community; something which has tangible benefits beyond the bottom line.
“I think (2022) will be a great time to publicize Lethbridge,” he explained. “We need to be talking about positive things, and great things our city does. We need to publicize all the assets we have in our city, and continue to showcase Lethbridge as a city that can host national events. I think the Brier is truly a national event. We will have participants from all 10 provinces and our territories. We will have a week full of television coverage, and I think the name Lethbridge coming up every day for a week (nationally) is worth a lot of value. And I think there will be economic benefits for businesses and residents in the city of Lethbridge.”
Bid Committee co-chair and Lethbridge Curling Club president Kirk Mearns thanked council for strongly supporting effort to bring Tim Horton’s Brier to Lethbridge.
“We are really excited council saw the benefits of us going ahead and making this bid for the Brier,” he said. “There’s a lot we can do with this community to help make things better as we move along. And the Brier, we think, is a big part of that.”
Mearns said with this hurdle cleared the bid committee was ready to put the hammer down and bring the Brier home for Lethbridge.
“We can put together a really solid bid,” he said. “We can get the Brier here.”
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