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Grande Prairie Storm Requests

Yesterday the Community Living Committee discussed the Grande Prairie Storm. They've been working hard to strengthen their operations, and have had a lot of success (for example, this season they've reported a 63% increase in ticket sales, a 28% increase in corporate sponsorship, and an increase in fundraising). The team feels that it is on a path to long-term sustainability. They've asked the City to help them along.

Committee decided to pass a few recommendations to Council. I voted "yes" at committee, but said that was because I felt these requests should get discussed by Council. I haven't decided yet how I will vote when it comes time to make actual decisions and commitments.

On one hand, I do think the Storm add value to our local community, culture, and economy. On the other hand, I'm very committed to both seeing taxes lowered and some important services increased (which is possible in our current organisation, but only with discipline). While some support for the Storm is appropriate, I don't know what level it should be at.

So I would love to hear your thoughts.

Some recommendations make a lot of sense to me and are very likely to have my support. These include allowing the Storm to operate a game day lounge and providing more oversight from the City (including a Councillor appointed to the board and the submission of business plans and financials to the City).

However, there are two that I don't know what to do with.

1) Zero rent for the 2018/19 season, $20 000 rent for the 2019/2020 season. Although it wasn't explicitly put into the motion, both committee members and Storm representatives expressed a desire to see this rent work its way up to full fair value eventually (it was set at $43,800).

2) A loan of $200,000 over a five year term with a 4.75% interest rate. This would go to paying of existing debts, including a number of local vendors. If the Storm find continued success, the City would make a small profit on this loan. However, with any loan there is a risk of defaulting.

What do you think of these recommendations?

Some important things to know:

  • The Storm is owned by a non-profit society. It's founders, board members, and patrons are prevented by Canadian law from taking profit out of it.

  • The Storm have historically paid more rent to the City than other teams in the league have paid for their facilities.

  • They first approached the City for help a couple of years ago. Since then, they have new board members with business experience and a new business manager. These seem like quality, smart people. They have also been incredibly transparent to us.

    -If we lost the Storm, Revolution Place would have a net loss: on top of rent it gets service fees and increased advertising revenue from having the Storm. Local businesses would also be likely to suffer loses.

  • There are few tangible assets that a loan can be secured with

If you got a vote at Council: how would you vote on these two recommendations? Why? If you voted "no," would you consider a similar motion but with more rent or a lower loan? If you voted "yes," would there be any conditions you would want to see attached?

Let me know what you think. You can comment below or call me at 780-402-4166. You may also be interested in the great discussion going on in the GP Round Table Facebook group.