By Greg Price
The ghosts of recreation sponsorship plans past reared its head once again at the recent unveiling of the Recreation Master Plan to the public earlier this month at the Taber Community Centre.
“I need an update in my mind with how much money has been spent with the sponsorship program. What did that end up costing us and what did it bring in,” said Mark Garner, a citizen who attended the open house unveiling of the recreation master plan at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium.
Sponsorship Connections was the firm hired back in November 2011 to acquire sponsorship deals on town-owned assets in an attempt to off-set the rising costs of recreation for families.
Including the two phases for the agreement which also included asset identification, according to a February 2016 sponsorship program status report issued to the Taber Recreation Board at its March meeting, costs have come in at $144,000. Total sales as of the end of 2015 were listed at $22,700.
“Where it has been for the last year, at one time there was a link between us and the sponsorship company and ourselves. But, when it became obvious a year ago it wasn’t really working out, there was an agreement the town can spearhead any initiatives on their own and the company wouldn’t get any money on that and they would focus on the bigger companies,” said Greg Birch, CAO for the Town of Taber.”
Garner noted he is affiliated with the Taber Chamber of Commerce and has been amazed that one person can fundraise consistently year after year after year with something like Cornfest and bring in $80,000-$90,000 for the last 10 to 15 years.
“Why couldn’t we put something like that in place, using local people to do this sort of thing instead of spending money,” said Garner. “Why do we look off into the distance instead of using local people to find solutions?”
Town councillor and recreation board member Randy Sparks was in the audience during the Recreation Master Plan unveiling and responded the two incidences in comparison were sort of like comparing apples and oranges.
“The recreation board of the time was looking for ways to generate funds to lower the cost of facilities so that people didn’t have to pay as much to use the facilities. They had presentations from individuals who had lots of success in communities raising a lot of funds. The rec board decided they wanted to try that avenue, so they went to council to ask for the funds to be involved with Sponsorship Connections,” said Sparks. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as it was meant to be. It’s easy to sit back and point the finger, but the recreation board thought this was a way to raise funds and give it a try. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and we carry on from here. It’s much easier to sponsor and fund things in the community when you are not losing 25 per cent to a for-profit organization. It’s much easier to raise funds when it goes to a project you are not losing any of the money on. This contract is done in June and we carry on.”
Sponsorship Connections secured contracts with Farm Credit Canada, Taco Time, ATB and Pengrowth. Sponsorship Connections have an agreement with the Town of Taber that no commission was paid out until total sales reached the town’s original investment of $144,000.