Alberni Bulldogs hockey club still owes $55K to city

The Bulldogs have only paid off $8,000 in almost two years.

The Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society, which operates the Alberni Valley Bulldogs minor hockey team, is still $55,000 in debt to the City of Port Alberni.

Coun. Denis Sauve said he was concerned that there was no agreement as to the rate of paying back the debt.

“Is there anything on paper that puts any type of memorandum of understanding to the organization saying when are you due to pay back this bill? If there isn’t, there should be.”

Director of community development Theresa Kingston said to her knowledge, there was no agreement.

“As I know it, two years ago the Bulldogs came to council looking for relief in terms of their rates at the arena,” said Kingston.

In May 2014, city council voted in favour of a 50 per  cent reduction in  team operating fees for the next two  years.

“We’re coming to the end of the two years and we’ll start renegotiating with the Bulldogs,” said Kingston.

“That will come before council in terms of making a decision.”

Two years ago, the hockey club’s debt to the city stood at $63,500, meaning that it has been reduced by just $8,000 over two years.

“They’re looking at where they’re at financially and what they can contribute to that debt,” said Kingston.

“The debt hasn’t been wiped away. That debt is to be paid.”

Speaking after Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Mike Ruttan said he was content with the Bulldogs’ debt repayment so far.

“I’m satisfied that they are paying it down. They’re working as hard and cutting corners as much as they possibly can,” said Ruttan.

“They don’t have all their final receipts for the 2015–16 season so they may well be in a position to pay down a little bit more of that.”

Despite their debt, Ruttan said he wasn’t concerned about requests for funding by the Bulldogs like one for help in completing their front office renovations at the Multiplex.

The Bulldogs had asked for funding for  a new electric fireplace, the entrance way to the new ticket area and help with office refinishing, but received $4,410 for soffit work instead.

“It is a long-term investment in terms of the city owned building,” Ruttan said.

The Bulldogs put $80,000 of their own funding (from an Alberni Valley Community Forest Grant) towards the office renovations.

Ruttan said that council is committed to working with the team. “We want to continue to support the Bulldogs. It is a tremendous community asset and we don’t want to jeopardize that but at the same time we want to put them in a position where they can pay off that debt that’s owed to the city.”

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