toddlers timberland boots Essar expected to lose
Sault Ste. Marie premier entertainment facility is losing more money every year.
The anticipated loss for the facility is estimated to be about $626,890.41 for 2018, about $40,000 more than the previous year, and even more than 2016, city council was told Monday.
Council passed a resolution asking city staff to compare the Sault facility with that in other similar sized municipalities that have privately operated facilities.
Council also wants a process and timeline outlined to consider the option of private management of the Essar Centre.
The motion, moved by Ward 2 councillors Susan Myers and Sandra Hollingsworth, notes that Kingston, Ont. city council has entered into a contractual agreement with a private management company to run its Rogers K Rock Centre, and the city is guaranteed 100 per cent of the first $550,000 in profits.
Myers said the use of the Essar Centre has not been maximized and something must be done to reduce the flow of loss.
She also suggested staffing options be examined to determine whether the facility is being marketed enough.
Myers said that in 2014 council received a report in caucus penned by Price Waterhouse outlining options for privatization.
While she said the report didn go far enough into depth with numbers, it offers a good start for staff to update, she argued.
Tom Vair, deputy CEO of community development and enterprise services, said staffing number changes have been made recently and staff is looking at ways to attract more events.
is a hemorrhaging which must be addressed,
Myers said. options should be on the table.
But Ward 1 Coun. Paul Christian warned that it will be difficult to turn the facility books to black.
a small market and a lot of arenas don make money, he said. not overly optimistic that we going to turn things around. We got a limited market, an aging population and a lot of people on fixed incomes.
Christian said that the contract established with the facility main tenant, the Soo Greyhounds, should also be re examined.
His wardmate, Steve Butland, warned council to tread cautiously.
operators want to make a profit, he said.
Consideration must also be given to groups and organizations that use the facility regularly, with the ice time already booked up. Privatization could result in increased user fees for them.
Ward 6 Coun. Joe Krmpotich also raised concerns that a private operator could result in the loss of local jobs.
Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Shoemaker argued the resolution didn go far enough. He wanted to see all the city arenas and community centre considered in the resolution.
Shoemaker called the resolution electioneering by raising the matter nine months prior to an election and asking for the report by August when Myers rejected his motion a year ago asking staff to report on the pros and cons of leasing the McMeeken Centre to a private operator. That resolution failed in a 4 4 recorded vote and, at the time, Myers said she was philosophically opposed to a private operator making money off a taxpayer facility. She had also noted that convention centres can also be a money losing operation for municipalities, but they draw people with events and bookings, resulting in cash registers ringing in other ways.
Shoemaker and wardmate Judy Hupponen moved to amend Myers motion and incorporate all the community centres in the report, then report back to council after the fall election. It failed.
Mayor Christian Provenzano said while he supports the concept of Myers resolution, he said he doesn believe the timing is right because it will ultimately be the next council that could make the decision.