Council Withholds $$ For Volleyball Pan-American Cup, Pending More Info
Prince George, BC – While saying he’s ‘keen on bringing these kinds of events to the community’, Mayor Lyn Hall has sided with his Council colleagues in delaying a decision on a request for a $60-thousand dollar commitment to support a local group vying to host the 2017 Under 21 Men’s Volleyball Pan-American Cup.
The Prince George Youth Volleyball Club and the Northern Sport Centre, in partnership with Tourism Prince George, supplied an expression of interest in hosting the six-day, eight-team international tournament to Volleyball Canada in August. Tourism PG’s Leanne Schinkel told Councillors the local group has since been encouraged to submit a formal bid, but requires the municipal pledge to do so.
Despite an anticipated deadline of early to mid-October for the formal Request for Proposal, Council unanimously endorsed a motion put forward by Councillor Jillian Merrick to refer the matter to City staff for further consideration.
In response to questioning from Councillors Terri McConnachie and Brian Skakun, Tourism’s Manager of Sport and Event Development said next July’s one-percent increase in the Municipal and Regional District Hotel Tax will come too late to help with this event, which is scheduled for May. And Schinkel said Tourism PG is currently structured in a way that does not allow it to spend more than $50-thousand dollars on any single event, but said there’s hope that will change when the new MRDHT kicks in. (The tax hike is expected to generate $400-thousand dollars annually for the organization.) Schinkel said Tourism Prince George will be investing $20-thousand dollars as a sponsor of the Pan-American Cup.
As for the City’s contribution, staff said the money could come from a reserve fund set aside for major events. The fund receives an annual injection of $200-thousand dollars from gaming revenue, but City Manager, Kathleen Soltis said this request would deplete much of the reserve to the end of 2016. She noted the City is in the process of working with Tourism Prince George on a long-term sports tourism plan that will come back to Council. “(It) will give us a strategy, I think for the next 10-years, of major events that we’re jointly going to pursue and the way in which those events will be funded by Tourism and by the City.”
The Northern Sport Centre’s Virginia Ashley said any amount lower than the requested $60-thousand would impact the local bid committee’s ability to leverage funding from other levels of government.
Councillor Jillian Merrick said the event seems similar in size and nature to the World Baseball Challenge, which received just a $20-thousand dollar grant from the City. She said she’d like to see a detailed budget outlining where the dollars will be spent, along with a comparison to past grants for similar events to ensure ‘consistency and fairness in funding’. With this grant, Councillor Merrick said she wants to see that, “City dollars are being used for essential components for the infrastructure of the event, and not on things like food and hotels and flights and things like that.” Ashley reiterated the grant would be used to leverage matching funds from the federal and provincial governments, but said it would also cover costs associated with hosting the teams: accomodations, transportation, food services, doping control fees, charges for venue rental, as well as airfare for the Canadian national team and international officials.
City staff’s report is expected at the October 17th Council meeting.