The Grande Prairie Storm has received a three-year interest-free payment deferral on a city loan, council decided July 24.

The Storm organization presented to the InvestGP committee on June 20, noting its financial issues due to the pandemic. 

“Working with this organization is something strategically that is of value to not only the downtown but the city as a whole,” said Mayor Jackie Clayton. 

“Teams across the league are suffering, and this is not a unique situation.”

City council recently waived its fees for the Bonnetts Centre and city rink usage for the Storm organization at its June 24 meeting, at an estimated value of $65,000.

The Swan City Hockey Association, which operates the Storm, initially asked for the city to forgive the remainder of the loan ($158,794). The organization received the $200,000 loan in 2019, which was expected to be paid over five years. 

Coun. Gladys Blackmore said the deferral will give the organization “time to get their financial house in order and to have some breathing room and some success.”

According to Jordan Johnsen, Storm treasurer, the association has taken on $310,000 in debt over the pandemic.

“Some of the debt we took on over COVID is coming due, and it’s really created a big challenge for us,” he said. 

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan requires $40,000 to be paid back this year, or the organization will have to pay back the $60,000 received with interest, explained Johnsen. 

The team’s 2023-2024 budget shows an operating shortfall of $38,256 and a requirement of $108,000 of additional cash needed to cover loan payments. 

City councillors highlighted the importance of having the Alberta Junior Hockey League team in the city. 

“We are a winter city, and finding entertainment options in the winter that you can take your family to that are nice and affordable and yet entertaining our something I’m not willing to go back on,” said Coun. Grant Berg.

Grande Prairie Storm Executive Director Nicole Menzies told the InvestGP committee on June 20 that the team partners with many local charities, and its players provided over 800 volunteer hours last year.

All while giving an affordable night out to families in the winter months. 

The Storm’s home opener is September 22, where they face off against the Drayton Valley Thunder. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 17, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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