Council considers curlers’ pleas

The city is giving the Whitehorse Curling Club another chance. With several young curlers looking on, city council deferred a vote on setting new lease agreements at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.

The city is giving the Whitehorse Curling Club another chance.

With several young curlers looking on, city council deferred a vote on setting new lease agreements at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.

That gives the curling club at least a month to negotiate a better rate for its lease.

The city had been planning to raise the rent it charges the club for use of the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre by 113 per cent over the next decade, from $30,000 to $63,929.

“Entering into this lease agreement will push the club to the breaking point,” Mark Evans, president of the curling club, told city council last week.

If the city refused to renegotiate its terms, Evans warned that the club might not sign it.

This week, council agreed to go back to the negotiating table.

“It’s possible that council made a mistake,” said Coun. Betty Irwin. “Gee, wouldn’t that be awful if we had to admit that we made a mistake and we want to make it right?”

Council had directed the planning department to recover 50 per cent of the costs of all the buildings it runs. To keep it fair, the city based the lease rate on the amount of space used by each renter.

The curling club uses 66 per cent of the recreational centre, so its rent would double over the lease’s 10-year term.

The Whitehorse Curling Club was in pretty good financial shape. For several recent years it posted significant surpluses. But last year, with bar and rental fees down, the club ended up $12,000 in the red.

Because the curling club was in the middle of installing a new board of directors, neither council nor the negotiating team was aware of the financial bind the club was in.

The curling club has $200,000 squirreled away in a contingency fund for capital expenses. But it would rather not dip into this money to cover its operations, unless it had to, said Evans.

“That may have to happen if we enter into a lease that is unaffordable for the club,” he said.

These savings may seem like a lot of money. But, as the club’s annual expenses run around $800,000, “it’s probably not really enough for what a contingency fund should be, if this was a profitable business,” said Evans.

When the city goes back to the negotiating table, Coun. Dave Austin said that he wants to see full financial disclosure from the club. “If all the cards are on the table, we can make a game out of it,” he said.

In putting forward the motion to defer the vote on the leases, Coun. Ranj Pillai said he was hopeful that an amicable agreement could be reached.

“Will the curling club soldier on?” he asked. “Probably. But I think that the damage to the relationship is going to be horrible, and I don’t think that’s what we’re here to do.

“I think we can take 30 days to take a breath … get everyone back at the table and work something out.”

His motion won support from all the councillors, except Florence Roberts.

“In the last 10 years we have gotten to be the giver of everything to everyone in the city,” she said. “The city is finally saying, ‘Look, you guys, are going to have to pay your fair share.’”

“If all we’re asking for is a 50 per cent recovery cost, then how much is that little piece of the rock that you have up there really worth to rent out?”

While she didn’t support the motion, Roberts did support the possibility of paying the curling club for the work it’s already doing to manage the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.

“If they get their act together and put in a contract proposal together to manage the facility up there, then possibly they can get part of their rental back in payment from the city in management fees,” she said. “To me, that’s worth its weight in gold.”

Council decided to defer the vote on the lease agreement for at least a month, but with the majority of staff responsible for those negotiations away on vacation, it could take a little bit longer to work out a deal.

Contact Josh Kerr at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision


Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read