Kneehill County granted $10,000 to help a local community association repair two damaged roofs, although some councillors didn’t seem to like how the money was being found. The decision was made at the June 13 regular meeting of council.
Councillors heard a presentation from two representatives of the Huxley Community Association, Jason Morgan and Richard Hopkins, who noted the association operates two facilities, the community hall and the curling rink.
Morgan, who noted he’s been involved with the association since the late 1990’s, said the board has a fantastic membership, adding that the hall is heavily used by a number of other community groups including 4-H, the Royal Canadian Legion and hosts many family events like weddings and baby showers.
Morgan estimated the hall hosts between 24 and 30 events per year.
Unfortunately, he noted, the Huxley community suffered a catastrophic hailstorm in June 2020. A payout was secured for the tin roof on the curling rink, but Morgan noted the insurance payments were pro-rated and did later in the meeting describe the community hall’s shingles as “curled,” and it seemed no insurance payment at all was recovered for the community hall damage.
Morgan stated both roofs require repair, and the insurance money for the curling rink roof totals almost $27,000. The association has obtained a quote to repair both roofs of $34,000.
Morgan explained the association has had a tough few years due to COVID closures, high utility bills and other financial stresses. He stated that the association’s ATCO bill in 2022 was about $28,000.
The volunteers noted the association holds its own fundraising events, including a ball tournament and curling bonspiel, but revenue from those still won’t cover the roof shortfall.
As well, the association wants to participate in fundraising casinos but the wait list is four years.
Hence, the association was requesting $10,000 from Kneehill County to cover the roof repairs shortfall.
Morgan added that if they used all of the funds the association has, it could pay for the roof repairs but likely wouldn’t have enough money left to operate through the upcoming winter.
Coun. Debbie Penner asked if the association applies for provincial or federal grants, to which the volunteers responded yes, the association tries to apply for every grant it’s eligible for but hasn’t received any.
County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen stated if councillors wanted to grant the funds, they had several options, including the Community Grant Program (CGP) or the recreation grant accounts.
Haugen stated granting the request may put an account over budget, but predicted that issue would be resolved at the end of the year as other departments posted a surplus.
Coun. Debbie Penner stated she didn’t want to grant funds from the CGP as other groups may be planning to apply for that money. However, Penner also noted she didn’t realize the Huxley hall was so heavily used.
Penner made a motion Kneehill County grant the Huxley Community Association $10,000 from the CGP with the understanding that other groups may still apply for the funding.
Coun. Faye McGhee did not like that idea. McGhee stated she was concerned the council was setting a precedent by granting a request to a group that didn’t go through the CGP application process.
Coun. Wade Christie noted that he was under the impression that coming to council as a delegation was an application option.
Haugen suggested the request could be granted from the council contingency account, which would place that account over budget, but which could also be righted when other department surpluses come in.
“Don’t particularly like that solution either,” said McGhee, but noted she liked it more than bypassing the CGP application process which felt to her like the county breaking its own rule.
Councillors unanimously passed a resolution granting $10,000 from the council contingency account to the Huxley Community Association for roof repairs.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 22, 2023