Gordon Wiess, who helped keep curling alive in the city for years despite financial uncertainty and an ice plant failure that nearly shuttered the club, has resigned as president of the Nelson Curling Club.
Wiess announced his departure at the club’s annual general meeting on Monday. He said he didn’t expect how difficult the job would be when he took over as president six years ago.
“The plant was probably the one issue that hit us by surprise,” he said. “It’s been a challenge. Thankfully it’s been a good group working on it here with me and we got through it.”
A pocket of ammonia was discovered underneath insulation during an examination of the ice plant in February 2019.
That ended the club’s season two months early, and may have killed curling in Nelson if the city hadn’t approved up to $30,000 in emergency funding last May.
Wiess said the main repairs to the plant have since been completed and paid for.
“When you look at what started the issue, the plant failure and the tragedy in Fernie, and just how it’s pushed the issues forward to the point where we have support from council now, how it came to be is kind of ironic and sad in some ways,” he said.
“But we feel we’ve come out of it quite well and we’re grateful.”
Financial statements made public at the AGM show the club lost $21,952 for the year ending April 30, 2019.
Wiess said the club was actually on track for one of its best financial years before the ice plant repairs prematurely ended the curling season.
The club spent $10,000 more on repairs and maintenance than it did the previous year, and the loss of a planned Valentine’s bonspiel cut into its curling revenue.
Even though curling is still alive in Nelson, several issues remain that threaten the club’s long-term health.
Despite a plea from the club for the Regional District of Central Kootenay to take over management of the plant, no one has stepped forward.
Wiess said that request has been further delayed by Area E director Ramona Faust’s plan to remove her constituents from Recreation Commission taxation commitments, of which Faust has singled out the city-owned curling club as an example.
The club has also been operating in the 47-year-old building without a lease for five years.
Wiess, who plans to stay on the club’s board as a director and continue negotiations with the city, has said he wants a new lease that only commits the club to paying rent during the curling season, or for the installation of a concrete floor that would allow for off-season events.
“That would change things dramatically here,” he said. “It would mean the building would be an asset for everyone, a year-round asset, not just for curling.”