June 22nd, 2024

City council supporting Scotties bid

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 29, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council is giving the Lethbridge Curling Club an opportunity to rock the Enmax Centre with another major national event.

Council will be providing $400,000 in cash and cash-in-kind to the curling club for its bid to host the 2026 Scotties Tournament of Hearts national womens curling championship.

The money won’t be paid unless the bid is successful. The funding will include $330,000 from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve and $70,000 from the major community event hosting grant.

This matter was one of several contained in Tuesday’s consent agenda which was approved unanimously Tuesday before council went into closed session to deal with a couple of matters, one involving Lethbridge Housing Association which was removed from that agenda.

A report to council submitted by Opportunity Lethbridge’s Abby Slovack and Kirk Mearns and Mike Mulroy of the curling club said significant economic and social benefits come with hosting such a bid. City administration believes the proposal is in alignment with Lethbridge’s major community event hosting policy.

Previously the hosting grant has funded several major events including the 2022 Brier to the tune of $355,846, the 2021 Alberta Summer Games ($73,000) and the World Mens Curling Championships ($500,000).

“As we witnessed with the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, as well as all the other elite curling action held in Lethbridge, there would be significant social and economic benefits to hosting an event of this magnitude,” said Mayor Blaine Hyggen in a statement provided by the City.

“Council is proud to help support this bid.”

The Economic and Standing Policy Committee of council heard on May 7 that no money was left in the Major Community Event Grant budget after $967,000 was allocated to support the Lethbridge and District Exhibition in January in the form of an emergency operating grant.

But $70,000 became available when the SPC voted to recommend council approve an amended request for funding for the 2025 and 2026 PlayOn! Canada Street Hockey Festival. That request meant $70,000 earmarked for this year could be re-allocated because all planned 2024 festivals were cancelled due to PlayOn! not securing federal matching funding for this year.

The PlayOn! funding was also approved as part of the consent agenda. That funding is for a revised request for $140,000 of cash or in-kind contributions, with $70,000 funded annually in 2025 and 2026 from the grant to the Downtown BRZ for the PlayOn! festival.

Chief financial officer and treasurer Darrell Mathews told the SPC that at the end of December the MRSR had just under $50 million. Commitments – including the $300,000 for the Scotties funding – would leave it with a balance of about $4 million.

The Scotties were previously staged here in 2007 and 1987. Other major curling events held here also include the 2019 world mens curling championships and the 2017 World Mixed Doubles and Seniors World Championships.

The host city is expected to be announced in January of 2025.

“The Lethbridge Curling Club would like to thank Lethbridge City Council and Administration for their support of our 2026 Scotties Tournament of Hearts bid,” said curling club general manager Mearns in the City statement.

“These events inject millions of dollars into the local economy, plus they create a sense of civic pride that contributes to our sharing common memories, emotions and beliefs with other people. They also help build the sport by attracting young people and new adult curlers, as well as inspire upcoming athletes in curling. We are committed to bringing world class curling events to Lethbridge and we are always humbled by and appreciative of the support we get from the City and the residents of Lethbridge.”

According to the City, all revenue from the sales of 50/50 tickets at the Scotties would stay in Lethbridge to support the curling club’s diversity programming as well as junior program, high school curling, senior accessibility, outreach programs, initiatives and equipment.

More than 220 room nights will be guaranteed by Curling Canada for their exclusive access if Lethbridge wins the bid which the City says will bring in $33,000 in room revenue.

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