Council supports city loan and contribution for tennis facility

Construction of a proposed indoor tennis facility will continue this summer thanks to a $175,000 loan and $125,000 contribution from the City of Salmon Arm.

On Monday, council received an update from the Salmon Arm Tennis Club regarding fundraising for the facility, as well as a request for both the interest-free loan, to be payable over 25 years, and the contribution, to come from the city’s recreational amenity reserve.

Club representatives Winston Pain and Ken Hecker explained to council, both in writing and in person, that while fundraising has gone well, project costs have escalated, in particular the cost of the timber and steel needed for the construction. Meanwhile, applications for provincial gaming grant and Tennis Canada funding were unsuccessful.

Pain explained that in September, the club decided to start the building permit process to avoid impending BC Building Code changes that could further escalate costs. The downside to this was the $115,000 development cost charge paid to the city, which further depleted the club’s working capital.

“With our building, we would have been close to buying two-thirds of the steel package in September, which would have allowed us to start the process of fabricating the steel and get ahead of the project,” explained Pain. “By not being able to do that and having, unfortunately, no working capital, we couldn’t do that.”

In response to the funding requests, city councillors (except Coun. Alan Harrison, who stepped out of the room due to potential conflict of interest) expressed confidence in both the club and the value of the future facility for the community.

“I know we went through the counter-petition process to approve… a loan,” said Coun. Kevin Flynn, referring to a $750,000 loan the city, in 2016, agreed to guarantee for the club to build the facility. “But that isn’t costing the taxpayers necessarily anything and that’s all been done in the past. At this point, we’re looking at possibly getting a $1.5 million facility for zero actual dollars invested and very little risk.”

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Speaking to the precedence of the loan, Coun. Tim Lavery said the club, “has presented a vetted, solid business plan and that’s important… there’s the capacity to pull this off.”

Afterwards, Hecker explained the $750,000 loan would only apply to the back-end of the project, leaving to club to raise the funding needed to get it going. He said the funding from the city should get the project to the stage where the $750,000 will complete it.

“The tennis club has operated really efficiently for 40 years with no debt or the times we’ve had to have capital expenditures, for example the $65,000 for the lights, we were able to pay that off within a four-year period,” said Hecker. “So we’ve certainly proved we can be an efficient organization… I was really pleased with the support and recognition that this is an addition to the Salmon Arm community.”

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