Before the City of Brandon could even draft a formal reimbursement request for the money it spent on its failed Canada Summer Games bid, it was denied by the Province of Manitoba.
Nammi Poorooshasb, director of the province’s cabinet communications, told the Brandon Sun via email Tuesday that late last week, an informal request was made by the city and rejected by the province.
Poorooshasb said the decision had been communicated with the city.
"The City of Brandon is responsible for costs it incurred in a bid to host the Canada Games," Poorooshasb wrote. "The province will, however, keep working with the city to expand recreation opportunities for families in Brandon."
In a unanimous vote at Monday night’s meeting, city councillors approved a motion brought forward by Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) to formally request a reimbursement from the province for the money spent on trying to land the 2017 Games.
A total of $274,000 was spent on bid preparation, travelling to the Canada Games in Halifax, as well as engineering and consulting reports.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said the province has known the city was requesting a reimbursement since January and has been mentioned informally on a few occasions, "including last week."
"Their position has always been consistent, since January," she said on Tuesday. "I’ve always kept council informed that the province was not interested in looking at a reimbursement."
Decter Hirst said she voted in favour of Montague’s motion because the conversations with the province have always been informal.
"I presume that Stephen has a purpose for his inquiry of wanting to put it on the record," she said. "We will formally request it, and then the province can formally respond."
Montague said he wasn’t aware of an informal request made last week, and is surprised by the "lack of consideration" the motion was given.
"We had talked about sending the letter to the province, to the two Brandon MLAs … hoping to get support for it, and we’ve been pre-emptively shut down before that could even happen which is unfortunate," Montague said. "We didn’t even get to have that conversation with them."
Montague said he wasn’t informed of an unofficial rejection, either.
"Why did we go through that process (Monday) night if is was just an exercise in redundancy?" he said.
Other councillors seemed to at least suspect the province wouldn’t be coughing over the $274,000.
"I wouldn’t say we all knew about it, but we kind of suspected that we weren’t going to get the money," said Coun. John LoRegio (Meadows).
Meanwhile, Coun. Garth Rice (South Centre) said the mayor had mentioned to council "a while back" that the city would have to incur the Canada Games bid cost.
"In Stephen’s case, he wants it in writing," Rice said. "He’d rather see the rejection letter I guess is what he’s after, and I certainly support that."
City manager Scott Hildebrand was surprised by the province’s response on Tuesday, as he said there had never been a formal communication on the subject.
"I know that there’s been conversations with the province where it’s been mentioned, but I always take those kind of one-off conversations as informal," Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand said the city still plans to send in its official request.
"We’re not giving up on it," he said. "This is still a motion of council. We’re still going to execute this and … still have those conversations with the province."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 9, 2013