Saanich has rejected a request from the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence (PISE) to help improve local recreation and accessibility, because one of its funds has reached a “new historical low.”
The facility had requested an interest-free loan of $250,000 over five years towards the replacement of facility’s artificial field turf and accessibility enhancements, estimated to cost $1.5 million. The centre serves as a training facility for national-level athletes representing Canada in a variety of sports, with community groups also using the facility.
PISE has $300,000 in funding for the project for which it has submitted “significant grant applications” to senior levels of government. PISE said it would not draw upon the loan until “such time as one of the major grant applications has been successful.”
Saanich’s rejection of the PISE request does not follow a policy, because council currently lacks such a policy, something staff plan to remedy.
“Council has historically considered requests on a case-by-case basis,” said Paul Arslan, senior manager of financial services, in a memo to council, which approved the denial unanimously.
The memo notes that the source of loan funding — Saanich’s land sale reserve fund — has reached a “new historical low” of just under $2 million. “This is the primary reason why staff’s recommendation is not to approve the PISE loan request at this time,” he said. Arslan said this level is of “concern” because it restricts Saanich’s ability to respond to “emerging opportunities to acquire parkland.”
He also noted that PISE has in past received loans at favourable rates of prime plus one per cent to upgrade its track
Saanich council also has a grant policy which restricts the District from assisting schools, colleges and universities, since the Community Charter exempts them from property taxation.