© Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer
St. Eleanors Lions Club members Gary Gaudet (left) and Stu Arkwell stand outside the club’s home, situated at 121 East Dr. The removal of the last two VLTs from the building has left the club to struggle to find the $15,000 they generated annually, money used to pay for the building’s upkeep and for electricity and heat.
SUMMERSIDE - The City of Summerside has given the St. Eleanors Lions Club no commitment if it will extend what was to be a short-term arrangement to help the organization continue to operate out of its home on East Drive.
The club made a last-ditch plea asking for a five-year commitment in which the city would pay for things such as property taxes, electricity, heat, lights, water and sewer fees, and snow removal at the building.
A one-year arrangement was made in October 2014 between the city and the club, where the city covered those costs in turn for $500 a month rent.
“We would like to thank the city for their support over the years and your added support over the last couple of years. It has enabled us to carry on with our commitment to the community,” said Lion Garnet Gibson. “We’ve been able to support the community, annually, by roughly $15,000 a year in donations raised by various projects, along with free services to the community that has a value of approximately $17,000 for the use of the Lions hall.”
Questions were raised about whether the club, which has seen its membership dwindle over the years, needs a building the size of the facility on East Drive.
“Would you be a lot better off with a smaller clubhouse with about 20 members,” asked Coun. Gordie Whitlock. “You are giving the hall to groups. You are not making any more there. It is actually costing you money.”
Gibson said without a building it would be almost impossible for the club to continue project fundraisers, such as its annual dinner and auction.
“We are bringing that money in to put back into the community,” he added.
The recent removal of the building’s last two video lottery terminals, which brought in $12,000 in annual revenue, has left the club scrambling to make up the shortfall.
Coun. Tyler DesRoches questioned why the St. Eleanors Lions Club and the Summerside Lions Club couldn’t join forces, something that club representatives shot down, saying it would potentially deter members from joining, adding each club has its own projects and loyal long-standing members.
Summerside Mayor Bill Martin would only say that the request would be considered as part of the city’s current budget preparations.
The city plans to deliver its budget sometime in January.