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No support from Courtenay to operate mountain sports centre

The Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Society's (VIMSS) request for operational funding was not supported by the City of Courtenay.
City council unanimously passed a motion not supporting the provision of an annual operating grant of $50,000 to the VIMSS from the CVRD for the new Vancouver Island Mountain Centre at Monday's council meeting. However, part of the motion recommends referring the funding request to the Comox Valley Regional District's (CVRD) Funding Regional Recreation and Cultural Facilities initiative for further review. 
VIMSS came in a delegation to council outlining the need for operational funding, and calling that need "urgent."
"This is our first year of operation," said VIMSS chair Rick Morrison, adding that when the organization applies for financing from banks it's asked if it receives funding from local government.
"At this point we've always had to say no. So what's really important to us is to receive this support from local area government for this year."
The CVRD sent the City of Courtenay a letter requesting input on three options for funding of VIMSS in late October.
The options are: establish a new service specific to the Mount Washington Resort area, redirect current taxes levied for recreational services from the Mount Washington community to be used directly in the community, or increase the annual funding to $50,000.
The City's response is due Feb. 3.
Recently opened, the centre has accommodation for up to 40 people, a large meeting room, a kitchen, a weight room and therapy rooms, among other things.
Morrison said it cost about $3.3 million to build. The federal government gave $1.1 million, the provincial government and various agencies gave $900,000, $750,000 came from corporate and individual donations, $550,000 came from a bank loan, and fitness equipment was donated.
He said no funding for construction came from municipal government.
Coun. Starr Winchester, who is on the CVRD board, asked City staff if it would be possible to approve a one-time grant of $50,000. She noted that the CVRD will be discussing funding for regional facilities soon, but wanted to consider giving the society some money sooner than later.
CAO Sandy Gray said it would be possible but it would mean changing a bylaw, and setting a precedent for the future, which he said to be careful of doing.
"Previous council has been very cautious about having an open door when it comes to regional funding, so I would urge you to be very, very cautious," said Gray.
writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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