Council made aware of ever-increasing cost of Winter Carnival

Arlen MacLaine
By Arlen MacLaine
November 14th, 2013

During this week’s Council meeting, Public Works Manager Darrin Albo made a brief presentation concerning the costs and budgeting of the Rossland Winter Carnival.  The numbers have been on the rise in the past few years and have far exceeded what was budgeted.

“We have tracked and detailed the last few years, and broke everything down from the bobsled, rail jam, ice bar, volleyball, to downtown barricades and other services,” said Albo.  “In 2010 our budget was $6000 dollars and we spent $13000, in 2011 our budget was $6400, and we spent $9300, in  2012 the budget was $6400 we spent $9800, and in 2013 the budget was $9500, we spent $17000.  Last year the rail jam itself was $8400, bobsled was $4300, ice bar was $1500.  I just want council to be aware of the escalating costs of winter carnival, and the demand that they keep asking of us is increasing.”

The rail jam has seen the most increase in cost, having gone up from, from $3000 to $8000 dollars.  Albo explained that this is due to the need to haul the snow in if it is an average snow year.  The rail jam area is getting larger, and snow can’t be stored on site.  Also, in past years an operator had volunteered their time for Saturday and Sunday, but now no longer wishes to do so, which means they’ll have to be charged out at City rates.

“There’s still lots of volunteer time that goes into the bobsled and other things around town, but I‘m going to say that if we have an average snowfall year, and we do the demands of what Winter Carnival is asking, we’re going to probably be in the $15 000 dollar range,” said Albo.  “If Council wants to make sure we move that forward into the budget year, that’s okay, I just wanted you to be well aware of the costs, that are coming along with that.”

One of the issues, is that costs aren’t usually known until after the Carnival, and City crews need to be ready for unforeseen circumstances.  It is also the premier event here in Rossland, and businesses count on the revenue that is brought in during that time.

Councillor Jill Spearn said, “You make it bigger and better by having better services. It wouldn’t have been bigger and better if the City of Rossland didn’t contribute double the service.  However, there is a limit to what the City can provide.”

Councillor Jody Blomme added, “Winter carnival is huge, we’ve got accommodaters that know 6 months ahead of time that they are full Winter Carnival weekend.  I think what this means is that we need to budget more realistically.”

“It’s a great thing for the city, and I think what we should do is to inform them that there is a limit to what we can do,” said Mayor Greg Granstrom.  “We budget realistically, and we recognize the success of Winter Carnival, but we also need to recognize that one of our operators isn’t volunteering his time anymore, and that’s huge.”

Councillor Tim Thatcher floated the idea of seeing if a private contractor could take on a donation role for the rail jam or the ice bar, to which Albo agreed would be a big help.  He added that if the contractor were busy at the last minute and couldn’t do it, City crews wouldn’t say no and would be there to make it happen.

Mayor Granstrom said, “We can approve it for this year, and then we will follow up with a report to them stating the escalating costs, write down what the events cost, and point out that either these costs have to be brought under control, or find other alternatives, or the City budgets more.”

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