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Councillors give cold shoulder to golf club's plea for cash to use hill

Couchiching Golf and Country Club requested $12,000 for use of its toboggan hill; City provides insurance and pays $5,000 annually for maintenance
2019-02-16 fam toboggan hill
Lots of families flock to the toboggan hill at the Couchiching Golf Course each winter. Andrew Philips/OrilliaMatters File Photo

The Couchiching Golf and Country Club’s request for $12,000 to continue to allow community use of its toboggan hill got a frosty reception at city hall during budget deliberations earlier this week.

Ed Novosky, president of the club’s board of directors, penned a letter to city council in October, asking the municipality for the annual contribution.

“Although the club has made this facility available at no charge over the years, continued financial pressures ensuring the club's viability increase annually and have reached the point where financial support from the City of OriIlia is being requested,” he wrote.

Coun. Ralph Cipolla suggested slashing the city’s contribution to $2,000 “as a token of our appreciation for letting us use the property.”

Coun. Jay Fallis agreed that $12,000 was too steep a price to pay to use the hill. However, he was in favour of a contribution.

“I actually remember when I was a little gaffer … it was a wonderful area to go,” said Fallis of the popular toboggan hill.

He noted the city gets “a lot of value from” the hill. He noted the club provides access to the hill “out of the goodness of their hearts in many ways.” 

He said “some type of compensation is fair” and hoped it would lead “to a whole other generation of tobogganers.”

However, city staff noted the municipality, through its corporate insurance policy, provides coverage for those who use the hill.

In addition, the city spends about $5,000 annually on maintenance, signage, erecting snow fencing and inspections. There has not typcially been any damage to the turf as a result of sledders, staff added.

It was also noted the city and the golf club had already signed off on an agreement for use of the hill this winter; that agreement is not conginent on muncipal funding.

As a result, Coun. Mason Ainsworth urged his colleagues to reject the request.

“It’s been pretty evident (through) discussion with staff that we do cover insurance for the hill,” said Ainsworth. “We also - and I wasn’t aware of this, actually - pay $5,000 for inspections, cleaning up the garbage, signage, snow fencing as well as maintenance ... so really there is no cost, essentially, to the cub.”

In Novosky’s letter to the city, he said a contribution from the city would “assist in covering many of the other costs such as property taxes, Orillia Power bills, city water charges and other items that remain constant during the months when they are completely shut down and the property is dormant relative to our normal activities.”

In the end, council decided against providing any funding to the club.

All decisions made during budget deliberations are subject to ratification at a special meeting of council Dec. 9.

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Dave Dawson

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