Timberwolves request fee reduction from Town

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A facility fee discount for the local Junior A hockey team could mean a loss of $7,755 in the 2021 budget.

Council will make its decision on the Hinton Timberwolves Hockey Team’s request for a reduction in facility rental fees during the regular council meeting on July 6.

“I’m excited that we’re going to have a hockey team again here at that level. There’s still a lot of risk for the organization in that the season could be a full season [or] it could be cut short. There still, especially in this season, are some uncertainties,” stated Coun. Dewly Nelson.

The Timberwolves made a request for the reduction in the spring of 2021, similar to facility contracts in years prior.

“A three-year contract is what we always strive for as a minimum. The support was based on the same amount of support happening in the infancy of the first [Hockey] team,” explained Hans van Klaveren, Hinton’s parks, recreation and culture manager .

The request from the Timberwolves and administration’s recommendation for the seasonal reductions for the Non-Prime Adult rates are 75 per cent, 50 per cent, and 25 per cent for the ice seasons of respectively 2021/2022, 2022/2023, and 2023/2024. Even though the second year includes a 50 per cent discount, it would have the largest impact due to the Team still being on hiatus in the first half of 2021.

“Budget 2021 and Budget 2023 are roughly coming out to the same amount of financial impact, about $7,700 or $7,600 dollars. It’s really the second year that has the largest impact on where we’re going with the proposed reduction of $12,500,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

The report by administration clarified that if a reduction to the current fees is applied without funding compensation, the operating budget for the Arena Service Unit will be under varying degrees of stress with minimal options to recover lost revenue through other means.

The extra staffing time needed to host a Junior A Hockey Team can be covered by a balanced revenue model in which the team pays full adult rates for all facility use.

Coun. Albert Ostashek raised some concern about the tight budget and finding extra money to support the hockey team without affecting other service levels.

“My concern is that if this is something that gets approved and moves ahead, unless there’s a direction to administration as to where that compensation is going to come from, I’m very uncomfortable passing this knowing what the implications are going to be to other services that the Town currently provides,” Ostashek said.

Laura Howarth, director of community services, stated that the implications for the 2021 budget would fall on the budget of the Arena Service Unit and the rest would go through the budget process for 2022 and beyond. Council has the option to make specific directions for a service area or service level reduction or allocating another source of funding.

The Timberwolves would continue to pay full prime-time facility use fees for scheduled games as has been established in past years’ agreements with both the Wildcats and the Timberwolves.

In October 2019, council reduced the Timberwolves’ hourly rental rate for Adult Non-Prime Arena Use by 75 per cent for the 2019/2020 season and 50 per cent for the 2020/2021 season. In March 2020, COVID-19 restrictions forced the team’s events to come to a halt. The team and its governing organization, the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) went into hiatus for the 2020 season.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice

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