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LETTER: Bailing out the Kamiskotia Ski Club is insanity

It's a mistake because taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize downhill skiing, no matter how good an activity it is, says Timmins resident
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TimminsToday has received the following letter from Timmins resident Gregory Reynolds who is concerned about the city considering an option to finance the Kamiskotia Ski Club.

Every residential unit in the City of Timmins is a “non-profit corporation.”

Families don’t have business plans, never have audited statements and, according to the Bank of Canada, spend $1.69 for every dollar in income.

Thus it is surprising city council is giving serious consideration to bailing out the latest non-profit operation looking to the taxpayers to bail it out of a sea of red ink.

Kamiskotia Ski Club owes the city $170,000 in back taxes and wants $150,000, either in one shot or spread over five years.

A couple of councilors immediately said they were prepared to help the club…...again!!

Thank heavens the majority was silent. Let’s hope they listen to the residential taxpayers (speak up NOW) before the grant request gets back on the agenda.

The mayor was blunt and on the right side of the issue when he said he couldn't support the club until he was presented with a business plan and an audited set of books.

He is too young to remember the Hollinger Gold Mine manager in the Great Depression told the local Anglican Church when it sought financial help “if it can’t pay the bills, it should close the doors.” Not his exact words but close enough and his judgment became part of our history.

The option of giving out public money over five years is financial insanity because the $30,000 annually would not cover the tax bill, much less the total club operating cost. The $178,000 debt would continue to grow like Jack’s beanstalk.

The usual argument in favour of more taxpayers’ money being wasted, that the ski hill is a tourist attraction, was immediately advanced. What tourists? The other large Northeastern Ontario municipalities have their own ski hills or one is close.

Yes, skiing is a good activity for children and whole families but I don’t want to subsidize them. Are we next going to be asked to pay for little Sally’s piano lessons or her ballet instructions?

The funny thing is that when I was the managing editor of The Daily Press, I wrote an editorial sometime in the 1970s against council bailing out the club. Council gave in to the wealthy ski fraternity (then) and the losses piled up. How time flies but nothing changes!

This council, as do every one of the 440 municipalities in Ontario, does not balance its annual budget. About 20 per cent comes from the provincial and federal governments.

There was talk at the council table of getting skiing grants from the senior governments.

Well, for the 233rd time, I remind city council that there is only one taxpayer. Every dollar Timmins gets from Queens Park or Ottawa comes from old, retired and often sick local taxpayers.

The new provincial government has told cities and towns to find efficiencies in their budgets and has announced a fresh round of cuts in assistance. Mayors are screaming but the cuts are effective next year, some even this year.

The party is over, it is time to face reality.

Gregory Reynolds