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M.D. not supporting Bingo Association’s request for financial help

The M.D. of Bonnyville is not supporting the Bonnyville Bingo Association’s financial ask to help alleviate some of the group’s money troubles.

The Bingo Association secured a $140,000 loan from the bank – guaranteed by the Town of Bonnyville – to cover renovation costs in moving facilities from the Agriplex to 52 Ave in the industrial area in 2019.

The M.D. previously denied them for a community action grant, and administration said it was a grey area whether they should support after bookkeeper, Susan Turner’s delegation to council in January.

The community action grant funds qualifying applicants with $25,000. Bingo has a shortfall of $17,000 due to construction costs of moving from the Agriplex to their new facility.

Council voted not to fund after a lengthy discussion where each councillor chimed in their opinion.

“Generally, when it comes to groups like that we’re looking to fund you know more long-term infrastructure type projects or one time events, but without having that side it was tough for some of us to come on board with supporting this,” Reeve Greg Sawchuk.

Volunteers from over a dozen community groups will work bingos to fundraise and lower costs for football or gymnastics.

Council debated whether not supporting bingo could lead to the same community groups coming to them to pick the cheque.

“As a council we’re trying to focus in on where spending takes place. And bingo is at arm’s length from the associations that are using the funds. We really have no control over what those funds are going to be used for. We have no idea where they’re headed,” said Sawchuk.

“It’s not direct. We’re tasked with being responsible with the taxpayers’ money and without knowing the final location of those funds, I guess you’re responsible to go ahead with just writing that blank check essentially.”

Turner said in January that she feared the outstanding contractor bills combined with other costs would deter these community groups from volunteering.