Colchester County’s financial support of Truro swim club a form of taxpayer subsidization to RECC, councillors say

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TRURO – Subsidizing user fees at a community centre with taxpayers’ money is unfair to other facilities, say some Colchester County councillors who recently voted against such a request.

“I’m not going to support it,” said Coun. Tom Taggart, regarding a request by the Centurions Swim Club of Truro for a $4,500 donation from the county to help host three provincial swim meets at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre (RECC).

“We can not continue to subsidize, we have issues with other facilities (that are struggling financially) and they take issue with this,” he said, of council’s decision to approve the request.

“We are subsidizing the civic centre by doing this. We have a rink in Debert that lost $50,000 or $60,000 last year (in part because of business lost to the RECC).

“I just am not going to support it.”

The swim club made the request after hosting a three-day provincial meet in mid February that cost more than $8,000, in part because it could not bring in food or refreshments for its volunteers and it could not sell baked goods, as it normally does at other meets, as a fundraising venture.

The club’s chairman said in a letter to council that the RECC’s “exorbitant costs” resulted in “absolutely no profit” from the event.

Taggart’s position was suggested by Mayor Bob Taylor as being nothing more than “negativity” and he said any future applications would be considered on their own merit.

Coun. Doug MacInnes, however, also described the financial support as a form of subsidy and said he also would not support the request.

“I’m sorry but I cannot agree with this. In speaking with people in my community they feel the same way, that we’re opening up a can of worms here … (to other groups that will also come looking for financial assistance because) … the prices will be too high,” he said.

“And I agree with Councillor Taggart, that it is a subsidy.”

Coun. Christine Blair said she voted in favour of the request, because “I believe in supporting the swim team. I know it can be seen as a subsidizing but I think that one of the things that is needed is the REC centre has to look at its policy with regards to food distribution and a few other things to make the use of the facility perhaps a little more user friendly.

“But for the sake of the swim club, I will agree to this this time. I won’t agree to it another time,” she said.

Coun. Mike Cooper, meanwhile, said he was in favour of supporting the request, because of the economic draw such events bring to the local community.

“To me this had nothing to do with the swim club. It had to do with economic development,” he said.

“And I will put money into it every day of the week if we can get things like this to come to the civic centre.”

hsullivan@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @tdnharry

 

Organizations: Rath Eastlink Community Centre, Centurions Swim Club of Truro

Geographic location: Colchester County, Debert

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