$10,000 in funding approved
Amherst is supporting the CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers with $10,000 in funding for the 2013-14 hockey season. The funding represents 50 per cent of the club's ice-time costs. An additional $20,000 for 2014-15 and 2015-16 is dependent on a business plan for the hockey team.
AMHERST – Amherst has decided to provide $10,000 in funding to the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers, but it wasn’t without considerable debate.
Council agreed during its June meeting on Monday to support the hockey, but stopped short of the original motion to provide $10,000 a year for three years.
“The Ramblers are a great organization and no one is here to try to run the team out of town, but I think we should provide them $10,000 now and the rest after we get a business plan showing how they need the money,” Deputy Mayor George Baker said.
Under the amended plan, the town will provide the Maritime Junior Hockey League franchise with $10,000 for the 2013-14 season while the remaining $20,000 to come after a business plan is provided before January.
Baker, who served several years as team president, said the town already does a lot for the town through a deal on ice rates and advertising at the stadium as well as giving the team the bar to operate.
“It’s a great organization but I just can’t support doing this,” Baker said.
The deputy mayor said if the town gave the Ramblers a three-year deal it could be expected to do the same for other stadium users like the Cumberland County Minor Hockey Association and the Amherst Skating Club.
He said if the team cannot make it work with the support it has maybe the town should take over its operation.
Coun. Robert Bird said the Ramblers are more than a hockey team, it’s an economic engine with probably $1 million in economic impact in the community. He said he could not imagine a Saturday night without the hockey club and believes the town has an obligation to support the team.
“To make this team jump through hoops like this is absurd,” Bird said, adding the town would have a hard time if the province treated it like that. “If it wouldn’t make sense for us to operate that way, how can we expect it to work for them.”
Coun. Lisa Emery said she didn’t feel comfortable with a three-year commitment, but could accept a one-year deal with the rest of the money to come upon receipt of a business plan showing how the money will be spent.
Mayor Robert Small said the arrangement would be similar to how it worked with the Cumberland YMCA in that it dispersed additional support once it had a plan in place.
“It would protect taxpayers’ dollars and would give the team the support it needs now,” the mayor said.
The team had asked both the town and the Municipality of Cumberland for $10,000 a year over five years. The county has a provision in its budget this year for $10,000 but has yet to vote on it.