Moncton bails out curling club so it can pay bills, continue operating

·3 min read
Curl Moncton will receive $66,000 from the City of Moncton to pay creditors and ensure the club remains operational.  (Pierre Fournier/CBC News  - image credit)
Curl Moncton will receive $66,000 from the City of Moncton to pay creditors and ensure the club remains operational. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News - image credit)

The City of Moncton is giving Curl Moncton a $66,000 bailout so the club can pay its creditors and continue operating.

Council approved the funding Monday after discussing it privately last week. Coun. Daniel Bourgeois voted against the motion because it was a grant instead of a loan.

Sherril Minns, president of Curl Moncton's board, said Tuesday that COVID-19 devastated the club's finances as it faced paying off loans from a recent building expansion.

The club delayed its opening last fall because of the pandemic, then in February announced it would cut its season short.

"We realized we couldn't afford to keep our doors open any longer," Minns said. By closing and removing the ice, Minns said they shaved $9,000 in monthly expenses.

Minns said membership dropped by about 60 per cent. Corporate rentals stopped. The 30 to 50 special events per year, some featuring teams from across the province or other provinces, dropped to only one event because of COVID travel restrictions.

Minns said the tradeoff with closing meant they didn't have revenue to cover bills and pay creditors. That's why the group approached the city for help.

"It's a huge relief and a huge benefit to Curl Moncton and we're eternally grateful to the city of Moncton," Minns said of the grants.

"It will allow us to open our doors this fall and go full steam ahead."

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

The motion approved by council says a $34,000 payment would be provided immediately so Curl Moncton can "pay creditors and ensure the club continues to operate."

There are conditions on the rest of the funding. A further $2,000 is contingent on the organization participating in governance training with a trainer selected by the city.

Another $30,000 would be provided once a strategic plan is created and approved by city council that "addresses the observations presented to Curl Moncton" by the city.

Minns said a city hall working group analyzed the club's business plan and came back with recommendations related to financial viability, capital repairs and maintenance, using the facility to better serve the community.

Kate Letterick/CBC News
Kate Letterick/CBC News

Curl Moncton was created in 2011 when the Beaver Curling Club and Beauséjour Curling Club were amalgamated. The Moncton Curling Association was acquired by Curl Moncton in 2013. After that, Curl Moncton doubled its ice capacity from five to 10 sheets.

Moncton loaned the organization $1,071,000 for the expansion, according to a 2017 news release.

Minns said Curl Moncton hadn't started its repayment schedule with the city, but its annual debt servicing payment to the city is $100,000.

CBC requested an interview with the city about the details of the grants and the city's previous loans. Isabelle LeBlanc, the city's director of communications, said a staff member wasn't available for an interview.

Minns said the organization has approached its other creditors seeking more time to make payments. It has also applied for municipal, provincial and federal assistance of various types, including COVID-19 relief programs.

"We're aware of a few other grants that exist and we're applying for everything we've become aware of," Minns said. "We just want to be able to raise money, keep our doors open and service the community."

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