St. John's committee votes to continue Aquarena funding
St. John's city council's finance committee voted Tuesday to continue subsidizing the Aquarena, a sports facility owned and operated by Memorial University.
The $100,000 grant is just a fraction of the $6 million MUN spends on the swimming complex on Westerland Road, but some think the city shouldn't be providing financial support at all.
Coun. Bernard Davis said the committee heard from people who believe there are other ways for the university to generate money to help maintain the Aquarena.
"They think that it should be a user-pay system for that, and you know there is some truth to that — if you don't use the Aquarena why should you be paying for it, is what they are thinking," he said.
Davis said his own views on the issue changed during the discussion.
"My position in the beginning of the whole process was, I didn't understand the concept of why we were continuing to give the $100,000 grant to the Aquarena. But looking at it from sober second thought with respect to the services that they provide and the amount of investment that it would cost the city to administer that, I thought it was incumbent on us to, at least for this year, continue the process," said Davis.
Davis said it is important for the city to maintain a good relationship with MUN to continue partnerships for upcoming events.
"We have a lot of issues that are coming up [with the university]. There's a traffic study in the area, there's the 2021 Canada Summer Games that we're hoping to have hosted here in St. John's, and obviously the Aquarena will play a large portion of the swimming events," he said.
"From my perspective I think it's incumbent upon us to keep it in this calendar year and then hopefully open up the discussion early in the budget cycle for 2015 to at least pare (the subsidy) down or have an exit strategy on how we're going to move forward on this."
The committee voted 5-2 in favour of giving the Aquarena its grant, but that's only a recommendation. It must still be approved by a vote of the full city council.