BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — At the request of West Grey Council, staff are preparing a plan which will force all municipally-owned facility renters to license their fundraising events through the municipality. On Thursday, July 29, a draft plan was unveiled to the public in a Zoom presentation led by Kodey Hewlett, Recreation Supervisor.
According to Hewlett, the plan would make it easier for renters, avoid the need for a special occasion permit and allow alcohol sales at more local events. The Municipality of West Grey would assume liability for such events. Security personnel and servers, as well as all bar-related costs would be covered by the municipality. But West Grey would also pocket much of the revenue garnered through the sale of alcohol, sharing only 10% of profits with renters. The profit-sharing scheme would apply to all renters including not-for-profit service clubs, charitable committees and sport associations.
The plan would also create a few negative consequences for the municipality including greater liability and higher insurance deductible(s) as well as increased Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) fees. More staff such as a booking coordinator, ticket sellers and floor/door monitors, would be hired to facilitate events. Alcohol would also need to be stored on premises.
Hewlett cited increased revenues for arenas as one of the benefits to the proposed alcohol-licensing arrangement. But the information was met with some unfavourable comments from many of the attendants at the public meeting.
One by one, representatives from the Lions Club of West Grey Durham (LCWGD), Durham Thundercats and Durham Homecoming Committee (whose event is scheduled for 2022) addressed Hewlett and voiced their disapproval. Each of these organizations use profits collected from the sale of alcohol at their events to fund their activities, many reinvesting money back into the community.
"I am here this evening representing our almost 50 strong members, in unanimous opposition to this proposal," said Andy MacGregor, President of the Lions Club of West Grey Durham. "If you follow through with this cash-grab, that will be the end of the 'Buck & Doe' — the end for young people just starting out, trying to make ends meet," said MacGregor. "It’s tough enough these days with out our elected officials putting an end to our traditions."
MacGregor named many beloved events such as dances, concerts, chicken dinners and Canada Day celebrations which would be jeopardized by the proposed policy. Without raised funds, dependent on licensed liquor sales at various local events, he explained that progress on LCWGD community projects could be slowed, naming the building of Heritage Bridge Park as one unfortunate casualty. "Have you estimated the cost of this proposal to the community?" he asked. "Things would just cease to exist."
The Heritage Walkway Bridge in Durham reopened in 2018. The Lion's Club of Durham West Grey plan to develop a park at the entrance using funds raised through the group's many activities and events.
Kevin Tremble, member of the Durham Thundercats, claimed to have done the math on the alcohol-licensing proposal, estimating that the team would need to sell 25 cases of beer just to break even at one of their events — a number, he said, they have never achieved.
The plan will be presented to West Grey Council in September-October. It will be accompanied by public comments. If council supports licensing the recreation facilities, a report will be brought forward during the 2021 budget discussions to outline the various options.
To provide comments on this issue, fill out the West Grey alcohol policy feedback form.
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