Hello Rainbow Rockers,
The Ottawa Curling Club has decided to close for the remainder of this curling season. A very unfortunate development but given all of the factors, it was a unanimous decision taken by the OCC Board. (see the OCC Communique below)
***** NOTE ******
We have just been informed of the possibility to play some games at the Rideau Curling Club on Saturdays … stay tuned for any positive developments.
Given the recent news of the closure of the OCC we will be assessing what we can do regarding the financial and our ability to easily accommodate the change to this season. . Details have yet to be sorted out, so please be patient as we work this out.
The Rainbow Rockers Curling League was formed in the summer of 2002, following a successful “In the Pink” bonspiel in March 2002. The start of the 2021-2022 season will mark our 20th year of operation! The league began with 8 teams and with tremendous growth, we had 40 teams playing in the Rainbow Rockers Curling League in early 2020 … then Covid hit!
It’s unfortunate that we cannot resume our season, but we look forward (fingers crossed) to planning for our 20th year of operation starting this fall! You can still keep your curling skills honed by watching the Scotties Tournament of Hearts starting this Friday, the Tim Horton’s Brier in early March, and the Men’s World Curling Competition in Calgary in early April.
Have a great spring and summer, and stay tuned for details on the fall season, or the potential ice at the Rideau Curling Club.
Your Rainbow Rockers Curling Executive Team
Steve * Patrick * Kevin * Chad * Geoff * Jeremy * Brian
The Ottawa Curling Club will remain CLOSED for the balance of the 2020-2021 curling season
We think that it is important context to go back to the summer of 2020 when we were planning for the uncertainties of the upcoming curling season. We had 4 main priorities:
1. The health and safety of everyone who came into the Club.
2. The long-term financial viability of the Club.
3. Providing membership with as many curling days as possible.
4. Not allowing #3 to jeopardize #1 or #2.
We are so grateful to the membership of our Club. On Tuesday we sent out an “Urgent” survey and as at Saturday’s deadline, the response rate was an overwhelming 86% (298/345).
While 69.5% of you said that you would come back to curl if the Club reopened, only 40.6% of you believed that the club should re-open. The latter figure is a particularly critical part of our decision making.
We would like to say a special thanks to the many of you who took the additional time to send us emails to complement your survey responses. The overwhelming majority of these notes urged us not to open again this season. Some cited COVID risks and the concern of yet another closure while virtually all pointed to the financial risks to the Club and its long-term viability as the key factors for consideration.
We would like to speak to each of those items – you deserve to know how we came to this decision, particularly as we see some other clubs in the city and in the province re-opening this week.
We are so grateful to Dalal, her staff and several Board Members for their diligent work at the start of the season when they established and implemented the COVID protocols and procedures which allowed us to safely curl with confidence.
While we are permitted to return under those same protocols (including potential enhancements), we admit to being somewhat less confident than we were at the beginning of the season with the emergence of more highly contagious variants.
Members’ and the staff’s health remain our first priority.
COVID Related Scheduling Risk
Given how close we are to the natural end of the curling season, in order to re-open, the Board needed to be confident that we could curl until at least mid-April. You will recall our decision to reduce expenses and remove the ice on January 15 (when the Ontario lockdown was announced). Reinstallation would require two weeks and we felt that we needed to see at least 6 weeks of curling in order to complete an entire round of games in each league. Curling beyond that for possible bonspiels would have been a welcome bonus.
While the Ottawa region transitions to Orange status on Tuesday, February 16, it comes with some notable concern from many in the medical community and warnings related to hospital capacity, front line worker exhaustion and potential variant related third waves. The provincial government points to an “emergency brake” which they will not hesitate to engage if data warrants a further shutdown. While we appreciate the merits of that approach, it is exactly that possibility that most concerns the Board as it relates to a possible re-opening.
Incurring the expenses related to re-opening and to then only curl for a week or two would be a terrible outcome.
We are fortunate that the Club’s financial position is as strong as it is. Curling is a tough business and while no club’s financials are investment grade, we are fortunate on a number of financial fronts.
Under Dalal’s leadership, we participated in every government COVID financial program including:
– Wage subsidy (Dalal is an employee of the Club, rather than on contract which is the case for most other curling clubs)
– Canadian Emergency Business Accounts (CEBA) loan: Interest free loans totaling $60,000, which is partially forgivable (up to $20,000) if the balance is repaid prior to December 31, 2022. The Club intends to repay in full prior to December 31, 2022.
– Utility subsidy of approximately $7,500.
The reality of the current situation is that given Orange level restrictions, bar and food services would, at best, only break-even if we re-opened. In normal operations, these services typically generate nearly 55% of our revenues, with a gross margin of over 55% (revenue less cost of sales as a percentage of sales).
With no additional revenues generated by a re-opening, the additional expenses related to our ice-maker contract, utilities, cleaning, PPE, etc. would have resulted in an additional loss of over $50,000 for this season.
While that is a material amount, we do not believe that the Club’s long-term viability would have been risked by these expenses. That said, our financial position is certainly much stronger if we do not re-open this season. Further, we do not yet know whether restrictions will continue into next curling season, or whether there will be any long-term impacts from the pandemic on our operations. Maintaining some cash reserves will provide us with some security in weathering any financial challenges we may be presented with over the next curling season and beyond.
There remains an uncertainty to the number of returning members for next season. This is a significant consideration as the Board assesses the financial position of the club.
Consideration for refunds / discounts
You will recall that in September, we gave everyone the option to opt out of the season prior to September 30, 2020 in order to receive a full refund. We were clear that refunds would not be offered after that.
Many clubs across the country chose not to open at all this season because of the financial risks involved. Our decision to open the Club was dependent on those membership funds. Looking back, we believe that we made the right decision based on the information available at the time and the wishes of our members.
That said, we were only able to curl for approximately ¼ of our season and we are now in a position where the government is allowing us to re-open. Yet we are choosing not to. That was not a scenario we had considered in the Fall.
We wanted you to be aware of our decision not to re-open as soon as possible but please be assured that we are analyzing various options for refunds, discounts etc. We cannot commit to anything at this point but please know that we take this extremely seriously and we will share an update as soon as we can.
Many of you have proactively told us that you will not avail yourselves of a possible refund or discount of any kind in order to support the club and we are extremely grateful for your kindness and generosity.
If you have any views related to this, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]
Charitable Tax Receipts
We have applied through CurlON to have the opportunity to solicit donations through the National Sport Trust Fund – Ontario. This program allows the issuance of charitable tax receipts for 2021 on donations received this season. Further details will be provided as the application develops.
The Last Rock
We are disappointed that we cannot offer you any more curling this year. The Board is unanimous in our belief that this is the right decision. We respect the fact that some of you will be supportive while some will disagree with this decision and we welcome your feedback.
We cannot wait to see all of you next fall when things will hopefully be back to some semblance of “normal”.
We look forward to hosting you all on a Saturday night late in the year when, the curling gods willing, we will all be together again with vaccines in our arms, drinks in our hands, music blasting (at an age appropriate level) while we celebrate life and curling and friends.
Until then, please take care and stay safe.
OCC Board of Directors