(by Cody McEachern)
CRAPAUD, P.E.I. — While restrictions prohibiting recreational gatherings from happening are set to end, many P.E.I. curling clubs are wondering if they will be able to reopen at all.
At a COVID-19 briefing on Jan. 26, the province announced restrictions would be relaxed around in-person dining, gym usage and recreational team practices and gatherings on Jan. 31.
However, with most curling clubs being closed since before Christmas, many have been left with no revenue and no way to pay their bills.
Vivian Sherren, president of the Crapaud Curling Club, says funds have been tight over the last two years as most fundraising efforts they depend on have been put on hold. She says being closed mid-season makes the struggle even worse. – Cody McEachern
“(Bill collectors), they want their money whether you are open or not,” said Vivian Sherren, president of the Crapaud Curling Club, in a phone interview on Jan. 26.
Like other facilities, the club has been closed since Dec. 18, right in the middle of its regular operating season. Sherren said the closure has only exacerbated the financial struggles the club has been dealing with over the last two years.
“Like almost everything in P.E.I., we rely a lot on fundraisers, but we haven’t been able to really do those since (the pandemic) started,” she said. “We got some financial help last year, but it just wasn’t enough. We’ve lost our spiels, we’re not making revenue from our bar and most of our big fundraisers can’t be held.”
Sherren said the hope is to reopen the club and try to pull in as much revenue as possible.
However, not every club is in the same position.
On Jan. 19, the Maple Leaf Curling Club in O’Leary announced on its Facebook page it would be keeping the club’s doors closed for the remainder of the season.
Like the O’Leary club, many are facing expensive power bills for the period they were closed, leaving some to consider whether they, too, should shut down their ice plants and close up shop for the season.
To help combat these financial struggles, the province has created a new non-repayable grant to provide funds for clubs, rinks and community halls to pay down some of their operating costs.
For those approved, indoor rinks could receive up to a maximum of $15,000, curling clubs a maximum of $7,500 and community halls a maximum of $2,500.
“That’s not going to help much, we’ve lost a lot more than that,” said Sherren on the $7,500. “We’ve been closed for six weeks. Last year when we were closed, which was in middle of March, we figured we lost $25,000 just being closed that little bit of time.”
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