This year’s Wam Bam competition is back, with a little help from the City of Fernie. The City has provided $3,000 in funding to organizers in order to make this year’s event happen.
The City received a letter on July 21 from the Fernie Mountain Bike Club, requesting $3,000 in funds to support the event. According to the letter, the funds would be used to provide first aid, announcers, judges and an event tent, among other services, for the event.
“There are a growing number of competitors from Fernie who tour Canada and the USA to attend similar events. They have said Fernie, particularly our Wam Bam event, is becoming well known. Competitors and people in the bike industry say it is one of the best run events and most fun of the summer,” read the letter, signed by Troy Nixon.
Although they missed the deadline to apply for Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding, City Council directed staff to find the funds in the budget to support the event. At the Aug. 22 City Council meeting, interim CAO Don Schafer presented a report regarding the funding. Staff reallocated approximately $15,000 from the City Hall accessibility improvement budget line, which will be removed from this year’s budget. $3,000 of that funding will be provided to Wam Bam, while the reminder will be used to fix a fence on one of the City’s properties. The fence project would have been over-budget had it not received the supplement funding.
“There was an initiative to look into what it would take to make City Hall more accessible to people. It wasn’t going to happen this year, due to various things cropping up and taking precedent,” Schafer told The Free Press. “Rather than carry that forward as an unspent budget item, we decided to redirect part of it to Wam Bam and part of it to a fence project that we were anticipating was going to cost more than it had initially been estimated at.”
Each budget year, the City of Fernie has $18,000 to allocate for discretionary grants. Typically, Council allocates the majority of the funding in the fall while planning the year’s budget and saves roughly $2,000 for any requests throughout the year. Currently, the City has exhausted its discretionary grant funds.
“We are encouraging people to try to meet the October deadline to try and get money set aside for them in next year’s budget so you don’t have people coming to council in a fairly constant stream, saying this is a good thing, help us out with the funding,” said Schafer. “At a certain point, as Councillor McSkimming said, the cupboard gets to be pretty bare.”