Bella Beats organizer disappointed by lack of action on lottery licensing

The Bella Beats Dance Troupe performing at Long John Jamboree 2019. Emelie Peacock photo
- Advertisement -

After paying $17,000 in fees for running a Chase the Ace fundraiser in support of local dancers, organizer Gail Leonardis is disappointed the city isn’t making lottery license changes more of a priority.

“It’s frustrating, as a group that is trying to support youth in this city and be competitive and potentially open up new avenues for these kids to explore as a career, whether it’s as a dancer or as a choreographer or somewhere in the fine arts,” she says. “When we’re paying so much to the city, it’s frustrating.”

READ MORE: 44 per cent of Chase the Ace earnings went to city: Dance society

Late last year Leonardis brought the issue up to the city – at the time the Beats Dance Society was running a Chase the Ace fundraiser which she says was barely breaking even after license fees and setting aside money for the next round of the fundraiser. She was initially told by a city staffer the city would look at an amendment to Bylaw 4436 in early 2019, now it looks like the amendment won’t come until the third quarter.

- Advertisement -

Director of corporate services Sharolynn Woodward says a complete review and re-write of the bylaw is on the city’s work plan and they are aiming to have bylaw amendments before council by the third quarter.

“We try and juggle our immense workloads and address things in terms of priorities and right now that’s where this item has settled,” she says. “We try and make sure that we are planning our work so that we address the most impactful items first and address them as best we can with the limited resources we have within city hall.”

Woodward says the city has started research into how other municipalities are accommodating Chase the Ace fundraisers and a public consultation will be done before these amendments are presented to council. “This is one we don’t want to just go out and put in one set of fee structures for Chase the Ace without really understanding what the impact it’s going to have on other events.”

The problem, Leonardis says, is not that the society has to pay a fee. The problem is how much the bylaw stipulates groups must pay. “We’re more than willing to pay a lottery license fee, absolutely. We just feel that when we’re making 300 dollars and you’re taking a 300 dollar license fee, you could cut your license fee and we could actually make some money off of this.”

READ MORE: City’s Chase the Ace fees ‘a hard pill to swallow’

City of Yellowknife’s lottery licencing fees. Submitted photo

The bylaw is structured so fees are calculated based on the total prize amount, in the case of Chase the Ace this would be the jackpot. If the jackpot is between $700 and $20,000, the fee each week is $300. Once the jackpot passes $20,000, the fee jumps to $1,500.

The Beats Dance Society has been invited to run another such fundraiser this month at the Monkey Tree. “We were hopeful that there would be these bylaw amendments at least reviewed by council prior to us having to apply for our lottery license for this next Chase the Ace,” Leonardis says. The group will be going ahead with the fundraiser even without these changes, she adds.

- Advertisement -