Volunteers at Scotties curling tournament asked to pay $100

Volunteers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, N.S., next year will be required to pay to cover the cost of their uniform and a dinner party.

Organizers say money will cover cost of uniforms, dinner party

Volunteers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, N.S., next year are asked to pay $100 to cover the cost of uniforms and a dinner party. (AFP/Getty Images)

Volunteers for next year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, N.S., are required to pay for the privilege.

The annual national curling event requires volunteers to pay a $100 commitment fee, dedicate 30 hours of their time over the nine-day tournament and be 19 years or older so they can work in the lounge where alcohol is served.

"The fee offsets the uniform costs," said Jennifer McCandie, event manager with Curling Canada. "They also have access to the venue and to the HeartStop Lounge when they are not on shift."

She said volunteers get to attend a dinner party before the event and keep their three-piece uniform as a souvenir.

Volunteers are needed for a variety of jobs, including driving teams to hotels and the rink, keeping score and statistics, helping with autograph sessions and staffing information booths.

McCandie said people have questioned the fee, but after the benefits were explained they understood.

'A wonderful deal'

That was true for Cyril MacDonald, 24, of Sydney, who was recently honoured with a Nova Scotia volunteer of the year award and a national Special Olympics male coach of the year award. 

"Initially I thought it was a little unusual," he said. "It is not something I have ever seen before."

But after he learned more about the tournament, MacDonald said he was willing to pay it and has filled out his application.

"It's such a high-class event, such an opportunity for this island, I think people would be crazy not to want to be involved in some way," he said. "I think if they are not getting volunteers to really commit and pay the money, who is to say the volunteer won't back out at the last minute and then they are in kind of a jam," said MacDonald.

Sydney's Cyril MacDonald, who has received a Nova Scotia volunteer of the year award, says he's willing to pay the fee to volunteer. (Special Olympics Nova Scotia/Facebook)

MacDonald said the 30-hour commitment is not a hardship for him, but the time and cost may be hard for others.

Gordon Cormier, president of the Schooner Curling Club, which is on the outskirts of Sydney, said it's a bargain.

"For $100 you get Scotties paraphernalia, you get some clothing with Scotties 2019 on it. You are getting a wonderful deal," he said. "You're going to get an opportunity to not only meet and greet, but get behind the background and see how it's [run]."

More volunteers needed

McCandie did not see the fee as a deterrent.

"I'm confident we will be able to get all the volunteers we need," she said. "Most of our volunteers will come from the local curling community."

She said they also have a national network of volunteers.

"We always have people that come from across Canada to volunteer, especially for marquee events like the Scotties. You have people who will travel. It will be their vacation for the year."

McCandie said ideally they would like to have 400 volunteers, and they are about 30 per cent of the way to that goal.

The only tickets on sale now are full-event packages, which are $399. That covers all 23 draws.

Tickets for individual games or smaller packages won't go on sale until the fall.

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts will take place at Centre 200 from Feb. 16 to 24, 2019.