Sackville Sports Stadium racks up $295K in debt that municipality can't collect

Halifax Regional Municipality's audit and finance committee is recommending that the debts of the Sackville Sports Stadium worth $295,000 be written off.

Committee recommends writing off debt that built up over a decade, mostly due to unpaid memberships

Most of Sackville Sports Stadium's debt can be blamed on a policy that did not allow people to cancel their memberships. That policy has since been changed. (Sackville Sports Stadium/Facebook)

Halifax Regional Municipality's audit and finance committee is recommending that Sackville Sports Stadium's $295,000 in uncollectible debts be written off.

The debts involve 785 accounts going back more than a decade. Most of the debt is from unpaid memberships and stems from a policy that did not allow people to cancel their memberships.

"It seems to me to be totally unrealistic," said Mayor Mike Savage of the policy. "It's hard to justify that we would have been doing this."

Mayor Mike Savage says the stadium's policy that put it hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt seems "totally unrealistic." (CBC)

Coun. Russell Walker agreed, but was critical of how long it took staff to deal with the problem.

"To me we have no choice but to write this off," said Walker. "My big thing is it's taken this long to get here."

Policy changes

The Sackville Sports Stadium was operated independently until 2012, when the municipality took over the facility.

In 2016, policy changes were made in an attempt to prevent future problems. The changes include paying for programs upfront, allowing online registration and introducing a cancellation policy.

Some councillors were concerned about the message that may be sent to other sports facilities in the municipality.

The municipality's manager for recreation says regional council will be getting a closer look at the books of all the facilities during the annual budget debate.

"Transparency is key," said Brad Anguish, "so council can see what's going on, what's the state of finances and make regionwide decisions."

Writing off the $295,000 does not affect current or future budgets.

The recommendation of the audit and finance committee needs to be approved by council. 

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca