The Pictou County Wellness Centre is still operating at a deficit, but the amount of that deficit went down significantly in the fiscal year ending in March 2017 according to audited financial statements.
In the fiscal year ending March 2016 the net operating cost for the facility was at $985,000. In 2017 that amount dropped to $819,000 according to information provided by Brian White, past-secretary for the Pictou County Wellness Centre board.
White said the savings came from a number of areas. The facility operations themselves saw a savings of about $130,000. White said that was due to a better selection of events that were put on by the centre.
“Some of the events that we put on in 2016 actually lost money,” he said.
The authority also put a focus on reducing utility costs and the electricity usage in particular and saw savings as a result to the tune of about $40,000.
Trenton Mayor and Wellness Centre board chair Shannon MacInnis said he is pleased with the improved financial position and called it a step in the right direction.
“It’s comforting knowing that we’re making some proper decisions to help ease the pain of financial troubles,” MacInnis said.
This year the board will assume management of the facility from Nustadia and he hopes that they can see a further reduction in costs. “We’re confident that the board can do the job that Nustadia has been doing,” MacInnis said. “We have the pulse of the people in our ear all the time.”
He believes another way to improve the financial future of the facility is through special events.
“That’s one of the things that’s been under utilized there,” he said.
Choosing the right event is key to the success he said. For instance the homeshow that was held last year was a great success bringing in thousands of people including those who might not otherwise visit the Wellness Centre. Events that include beer gardens have also traditionally done well at the facility.
He said they’re also open to hearing ideas from others in the community.
White said that one thing the board will have to keep a watch on in the future is expenses related to building maintenance and repair. While the building isn’t old, now that it is past the five-year mark there are some repairs and maintenance that the board will need to plan for.
White said that centres like this rarely make money, but it’s important to keep the costs to a manageable level.
“We know we’re going to have to put some in. There’s no way around that,” White said. “It becomes a matter of how much.”
He believes it’s important people view the Wellness Centre for its value in drawing people to the county.
“It’s more than simply a skating rink and a swimming pool. It’s a focal point for the community. It provides an incentive to relocate to the area.”
At the AGM on Monday, MacInnis was reappointed as chair and New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks as vice chair.