Curling club makes pitch to seek funding

The club is hoping the city allows it to pursue a concrete floor renovation through grants and donations.

The Nelson Curling Club wants to fund a concrete floor renovation through grants and donations.

The Nelson Curling Club’s president is hoping concrete is the solution to all the venue’s problems.

Gordon Wiess appeared before city council Monday night seeking permission to apply for grants and donations that will help the club replace its sand floor with concrete. The club’s building, which began operating in 1973, is owned by the city.

“We’re wanting support from the city and it doesn’t necessarily have to be financial support,” Wiess said Tuesday. “We want their permission, we want their trust and we want their support. But the financial part never included the city. It’s not a formal request for funds.”

Wiess said the estimated the cost for the project is $250,000. His proposal was made at what’s called the Committee of the Whole, at which council hears the public but defers decisions.

The club has struggled financially since the end of the Midsummer Bonspiel in 2008. A concrete floor, Wiess hopes, will give the venue an opportunity to remain in use after the curling season ends. If the city approves the proposal, Wiess plans on applying for grants through the Columbia Basin Trust and various levels of government.

Wiess said the plan is a win-win for the club and city.

“We can implement an impressive marketing strategy to use the building during the summer months and thereby produce funds and make money to support curling,” said Wiess. “Being able to use a building like that, we feel we can hold events and make a profit to support curling.”

The club’s board of directors envisions several hosting opportunities for the space including concerts and markets. Wiess said the concrete floor could also lead to bigger curling events coming to Nelson. The club hosted the provincial men’s championship in February, and Wiess wants the venue to eventually be considered for national events.

There are also long-term plans to fund a geothermal mechanical system that would decrease the club’s greenhouse gas emissions and lower operating costs, but Wiess said the current proposal only focused on the concrete floor. Without the upgrade, Wiess said he thinks the club will continue to struggle.

“It’s important for us to be self-sustaining to be able to pay our way and not ask for financial help from the city,” he said. “We have the energy and the people to put on events, to raise capital. We want to be able to do that, and that’s why this floor in our opinion is important. If we don’t have this floor, it will be a struggle. We’ll have to think of different ways to raise money.”

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