This is one of those instances where growing up as 'family and friends' in a small municipality made for a winning situation.
A request for the waiving of ice time fees at the Tay Rink was brought by Deputy Mayor Gerard La Chapelle to Tay council at a recent regular meeting. He made the request so that he could include free ice time as an auction item as part of the upcoming Family and Friends Drop the Ball Raffle.
Family and Friends began in 2006 as a golf tournament by La Chapelle in memory of his wife Gail; it quickly became a popular annual event to support local organizations.
Last year, $32,300 was raised to support Hospice Huronia Tomkin's House and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.
The charity event, to be held on Sept. 10 at the Midland Golf and Country Club, will see 50,000 numbered golf balls dropped by helicopter onto the course with many prizes available to those who purchased the golf balls.
“(Family and Friends) are asking the Township of Tay for the use of one hour’s ice time and a waive of rental fees,” pitched La Chapelle. “So with the other two municipalities (of Midland and Penetanguishene), it creates an auction item that we can increase our revenues from this fundraising idea.”
Members of council were in overwhelming support of the charity and the two organizations who stood to benefit from the event. However, caution was expressed toward waiving the ice rental fee from a municipal standpoint.
For Coun. Jeff Bumstead, having the deputy mayor as a part of the community group coming to council with the request was welcome, but he posed to council that other groups without direct municipal involvement may not have an equal opportunity to make those types of requests.
He proposed having staff look at developing a policy for community groups to make similar asks of council.
Agreement for staff to look at a policy came from other members of council, including Mayor Ted Walker, who noted that the township had been “unintentionally” caught in a similar situation in the past.
The other factor which was discussed was in regard to the length of ice time proposed for the auction item.
Coun. Paul Raymond, speaking from his involvement with groups such as the Port McNicoll youth activity group, advised La Chapelle that the time should be increased to two hours from one hour, as a 15-minute requirement to clean the rink between uses would actually reduce the request down from 60 minutes to 45 instead.
Walker asked how much an hour of ice rental time would be for the Tay Rink; the response from La Chapelle was $115.
“I’ll make you a deal,” said Walker after some thought, prompting a large number of smiles on the faces of council with his unexpected remark – as context, Walker and La Chapelle grew up together in the municipality and have been close friends throughout their lives.
He offered to pay the $115 hourly fee, reasoning that an official policy wouldn’t be created in time for the charity event, prior to the next regular council meeting in late September.
Moments later, Coun. Bumstead also offered to pay for Raymond’s suggested second hour of ice time at an additional $115 from personal funds, citing “great initiative and great organizations” deserving of the donation.
He also raised a point of clarity to the auction item which he and other council members had received.
“There was quite a bit of concern raised about public skating time,” stated Bumstead, “so we just want to make sure that when the ice is chosen that it’s a rental time – not taking away from some of those public skating and shinny times.”
Tickets are $10 each or 3 for $25, with the opportunity to win one of 13 "incredible" prizes. Tickets are available online at www.familyandfriendscharity.ca.
Tay council meets for regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Further information including council’s agenda can be found on the Tay township website.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca