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Council approves new Elora Rocks debt repayment agreement

The team currently owes the township $25,149
Elora Rocks president Rich Wigmore, vice president Cassie Silverthorn, chairman of the board Jason Castellan, goaltender Collin Dunne, and players Brock and Luke Hoelscher attended the meeting to show support for the team.

ELORA – The Elora Rocks have received a small helping hand from the township to pay off its long-term debt. 

The hockey club returned to Centre Wellington council Monday evening to ask councillors to approve lowering their annual debt payments by about $630 a year and changing the date their debt payment is due from April to the end of the year so it doesn't overlap with their annual ice allocation and league payments. 

Since their last delegation, the team has gathered over 250 signatures to show support for the Elora Rocks and the proposed solution. 

"We have great support by a lot of the young men who are playing on the team – in fact I played with their fathers and their uncles ... and I think it's important that we continue that legacy and keep that going on for the team," said Jason Castellan, chairman of the hockey team's new board of governors and a former Rocks player, during the meeting. 

But while councillors eventually agreed to reduce their annual payment from $3,143 to $2,515 as staff recommended, they were only willing to delay the team's 2024 payment to December. The rest remain due in April until 2033. 

Currently, the balance for the team's interest-free loan is $25,149. 

"For me, I'm just happy that the whole amount is not on the taxpayer," said Coun. Lisa MacDonald, during the meeting. "I had concerns that (the team) could possibly walk away and I didn't want to see that happen. The Rocks are a heritage legacy group and team ... so I'm okay with extending it (agreement) just that little bit longer." 

Coun. Denis Craddock disagreed with only deferring the team's 2024 payment and advocated for the team's full request "to set them up for success." 

"I feel like we're already setting a precedent where we're deferring a payment, why not just give them that full year as proposed? Let them have it," said Craddock, during the meeting. 

Disagreeing with Craddock, Coun. Bronwynne Wilton voted against restructuring the group's debt and setting a precedent for other groups who might come to council asking for the same thing. 

"I think $2,500 for this group should be doable. Like that's a bottle drive. Every other community organization has to fundraise for their fees and ice time," said Wilton, during the meeting. 

"I do think these are adults playing a sport and they should be able to collectively between the group of them, there are probably 30-40 people involved, if they all chip in $100, they can make a payment no problem and then pay it back through the year quite easily," said Wilton. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program

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About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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