COVID blamed for massive deficit at South River-Machar arena

·2 min read

Don McArthur, the clerk-administrator for the Village of South River, has shared bad news with the town council involving the arena.

McArthur is predicting that the South River-Machar Community Centre will have a deficit in the range of $30,000 to $70,000 for 2021.

McArthur believes the final shortfall will come in somewhere between both numbers at about $50,000.

He says the huge shortfall can all be attributed to the lockdowns COVID-19 caused across Ontario this year.

For South River, one of the biggest hits it took was not being able to hold the annual summer Hockey Opportunity Camp, which is one of the largest revenue generators for the facility.

Because the arena is shared with Machar, if the shortfall comes in at $50,000, McArthur says South River's share of the deficit will be $33,500, while Machar will cover the remaining $16,500.

McArthur says the deficit is sizable but also came as no surprise given the challenges created by the pandemic.

“It's not unexpected,” McArthur said.

“We're hoping the province may make more funding available.”

McArthur said going into this year, the village put together a budget expecting to hold the summer hockey camp.

But the further lockdowns nixed those plans, as well as others to have the arena open for additional regular users.

McArthur reasoned that since the Ontario government made COVID-related grants available to municipalities last year, he believes similar grants could come again for 2021 and would expect the arena to qualify, since the impact it felt was 100 percent pandemic related.

In an Accounts Report to council Monday night, McArthur said if there is no additional provincial money to offset the arena deficit, the village may have to redirect money it planned to put into its reserve fund this year and apply those dollars to the shortfall.

McArthur says COVID-19 also continues to create challenges for arena user groups, but all is not lost.

He says “they won't bail” on eventually using the arena again, even though for now not every user group has all of its respective participants on board.

“Barring another lockdown, we carry on and hope things get better,” McArthur said.

“Nothing is going to save 2021 and we can only hope things improve for 2022.”

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, The North Bay Nugget

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