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City's help on hold for Alberni Valley Bulldogs

The Alberni Bulldogs’ fiscal fate will hinge on a decision from the Alberni-Clayoquot Region District.

Team officials met with ACRD Alberni committee members on May 23, chief administrative officer Russell Dyson said.

“ACRD staff has been directed to meet with Bulldogs staff to explore a sponsorship program that would help the ACRD promote recycling and re-use in the Valley,” Dyson said.

“This is something that would be mutually beneficial, not just a grant or subsidy.”

On May 12, Port Alberni city councillors voted to table a motion denying the Jr. A hockey team’s request for a reduction in current debt with the city.

Instead, councillors will consider supporting a 50 per cent reduction in operating fees for the next two years.

The team originally asked for a 50 per cent reduction on their ice rental fee but the plan isn’t possible.

According to a report from Parks, Recreation and Heritage director Scott Kenny, the Community Charter forbids the city from offering an advantage to a private for-profit business.

The city can however offer a reduction in operating costs. The team currently pays $4,300 per month in rental costs and $1,000 per game for playoffs.

The team owes the city a total of $63,500 in fixed and additional costs plus payments to the end of July. The team’s last payment to the city was $10,000 in January.

The amount will remain on the city’s books as accounts receivable items.

Team officials committed to working out a repayment schedule with the city.

Councillors Jack McLeman and Hira Chopra wanted to know where things would stand with the city once the team is on better financial footing.

“Where are we in the pecking order to be paid extra money,” Coun. Jack McLeman said.

The city would have first dibs, Bulldogs business manager Lucas Banton said. “If profitable, the city will be first in line to be paid.”

The Bulldogs are a big part of the community but business is business, Coun. Cindy Solda said. “The debt is a lot of money. It’s a hard decision to make. It’s the taxpayers we’re representing,” she said.

“If you were sitting in my seat you’d be in the same shoes.”

Responding to a question about how the team got into debt, PAJHS official Darren Deluca replied that the new ownership inherited $300,000 in vendor debt. The debt is “cheap money” and isn’t urgent, he added.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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