Elk Lake rowers ask Saanich for another $50K loan

As renovations to the Elk Lake Boathouse near completion, Saanich council will look at a request from the Victoria Rowing Society for a $50,000 interest-free loan. This in addition to a $250,000 loan granted last March.

Hugh Porter, president of the society, says $74,000 of that loan was paid back in the first year of the five-year agreement. With the new loan, repayments would total $56,500 per year for the remaining four years.

“Last year, we made a request for a $300,000 loan and council created a policy of not lending more than $250,000, so they lent us $250,000. Now that what we owe is less than $200,000, we’re asking for another $50,000 to cover additional expenses,” Porter said.

Paul Murray, Saanich’s director of finance, says interest-free loans are most often given from the land sale reserve fund to soccer organizations looking to develop turf fields.

“This one’s a little different because it’s not property the municipality owns. It’s regional property. Soccer clubs are improving municipal assets (parks),” Murray said. Because of that, if this loan were to be approved, the money would come from general reserves.

The society approached council in January asking for a $50,000 community grant, but Mayor Frank Leonard recommended having discussions with staff to propose an addition to the outstanding loan.

Porter says the renovations are roughly 80 per cent complete and should be done by the end of May.

The reno adds more than 570 square metres to the boathouse, including a new multipurpose room for training, additional boat storage area, new washrooms and a small regatta concession.

The cost of the entire project – also funded by the federal government, the University of Victoria, Rowing Canada Aviron and individual donors – will be about $1.8 million.

Four groups operate from the boathouse: Rowing Canada, the University of Victoria rowing club, the Greater Victoria Youth Rowing Society and Victoria City Rowing Club. The Victoria Rowing Society operates the boathouse on behalf of the clubs.

Porter estimates 1,400 individual rowers pass through the boathouse each year.

kslavin@saanichnews.com