Amherst wants to hold more talks before agreeing to give the Ramblers a second annual $10,000 grant.
AMHERST – The president of the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers says he’s disappointed the town may not continue its funding support for the junior hockey team.
“It caught me off guard,” Jim Henwood said. “We were asked to show our need for the grant and we did that. That money means a lot to the operation of our hockey club. It’s a significant amount of money that we were counting on.”
While staff recommended a $10,000 grant for the team at council’s May committee-of-the-whole meeting on Monday, council elected to hold off on approving the allotment after Coun. George Baker questioned giving the team its second annual $10,000 grant when it already provides other incentives to the club.
“I support the Ramblers 100 per cent and think they’re important to the town and the stadium but we already give them $12,000 in advertising and we paid half their security,” Baker said. “Last year, we gave the $10,000. Now they want another $10,000 so we’ll be giving them a total of $22,000.”
Baker said the town has done its fair share and suggested the team is not holding the fundraising events it used to hold because it’s relying on the town’s grant.
“We have to justify the money we’re giving away,” Baker said.
Last year, the Ramblers approached both the town and the Municipality of Cumberland asking both to become sponsors of the club. While the county agreed to give $30,000 over three years, the town only agreed to give $10,000 with additional money being given after a financial statement showing need is provided.
Henwood said the need is there, and the team’s financial position will become well known at its annual meeting on May 28 at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
“There’s no question the need is there,” Henwood said. “Our attendance was down quite a bit from last year, our transportation costs were up a lot and we didn’t got as far as we hoped in the playoffs. It all adds up to a significant loss.”
Henwood said he’s disappointed that the team is the Amherst Ramblers and plays out of the Amherst Stadium, but may only get a grant from Cumberland County next season.
Henwood did not want to reveal the final figure until the membership has a chance to see it at the annual meeting.
“Thank goodness for the Toonie draw. It has brought in a lot of money for us this year and I hate to think where we’d be without it, but this hurts because we thought the town was a big supporter like the county,” Henwood said. “I just hope we get an opportunity to sit down and discuss this with them.”
Baker also questioned giving a $15,000 grant to the Downtown Business Advisory Committee for the Blueberry Harvest Festival when last year’s edition finished with a profit of $17,000.
“They’re not out there to make money, but they made a lot of money that they gave to the town and used some of it for the street party,” Baker said. “It still doesn’t make sense for them to request another $15,000.”
Baker said he believes the committee only asked for the money because the Rockabilly Festival got $25,000 last year.
When Amherst council holds its regular monthly meeting on Monday it’s expected to approve more than $50,000 in grants to various groups and organizations.