Council spotlight on Powassan Voodoos over finances distressing team's owners, says mayor

·3 min read

Powassan Mayor Peter McIsaac says some members of council are causing distress for the owners of the Powassan Voodoos.

McIsaac made the comment during a debate on exactly when the ice should go into the Powassan Sportsplex.

Coun. Randy Hall and Coun. Debbie Piekarski questioned the wisdom of installing the ice in August when there are few users and as a result, the municipality takes a financial hit.

Hall said figures show it takes about $11,000 to put the ice in during August but the municipality only sees a few thousand dollars in revenue.

Hall wanted to see a rate of return of at least 75 per cent during this period given that the municipality faces tough times ahead and local taxpayers are going to face fairly high increases for years to come.

“We should be very cautious of any losses,” Hall said.

Hall added he wasn’t opposed to the ice being installed during August as long as enough revenue came in to partially offset the installation cost.

Piekarski agreed and said that during arena committee meetings there have been discussions on how to recoup the cost for an August installation.

In the course of asking how the arena can generate more revenue, Piekarski said perhaps the Voodoos could help out.

At the previous council meeting when the Voodoos contract was being debated for renewal, Piekarski noted that the hockey team pulled in $35,000 to $40,000 alone from the arena billboards at the Sportsplex.

However, at that same meeting, McIsaac said it takes a lot of money to operate a Junior A hockey team.

At the most recent meeting McIsaac said the Voodoos begin training right after the Labour Day weekend so the ice has to go in during August.

But McIsaac added the ice is installed in late August not on Aug. 1.

McIsaac next pointed out that the local minor hockey association also gears up for a September start.

“Their registration is done,” he said.

“If you don’t have the ice in the rink for September, you would do harm to minor hockey. They count on it. It impacts them.”

McIsaac said on some occasions when the ice is installed during August, there are some users but this is generally not the case.

He pointed this fact out to simply highlight where the August revenue comes from.

McIsaac next turned his sights on council regularly injecting the Voodoos in debates involving the arena costs.

“We talk a lot about the Voodoos and I don’t understand why,” said the mayor.

He said following the last council meeting that discussed and approved the upcoming contract with the team, McIsaac said he got a call from the team’s ownership.

“They wondered why they had a spotlight on them,” McIsaac said.

“They’re not overly happy about it and want to know why the other user groups don’t get the same kind of attention. They feel a little distraught now.”

McIsaac pointed out that in addition to the Voodoos and minor hockey, other user groups include figure skaters, the triple A association from North Bay and also the Powassan Men’s Hockey League but the spotlight is consistently on the Voodoos.

At the previous meeting, McIsaac made a point of telling council the Voodoos always pay their bills to the municipality and their presence in the community generates a lot of revenue for the arena. Hall eventually withdrew his idea about installing the ice at a later time.

If there was one point all of the council agreed on though it’s that arenas always lose money.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget

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