Friday April 18, 2014





Bike rally runs out of financial gas

'If they continue to operate that way it puts the event in a bad light'

A poster from the first rally

Federally funded Community Futures is suing the organizers of a Nicola Valley biker rally for non-payment of loans.

Community Futures Nicola Valley has filed a lawsuit against Great Canadian Bike Rally, claiming it has not paid back any of $45,000 made in three loan installments.

The suit names the company as well as principals Paul and Michael Fairfield, the father and son who organized the rally. Neither the company nor Paul Fairfield returned calls Thursday seeking comment.

The statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court states the agency provided the rally organizers with three loans to be used as working capital for the event. It levied four per cent interest on the loans.

Community Futures offices promote entrepreneurial efforts in communities, providing training and start-up loans. It is funded by the federal government.

It declared the company in default on Aug. 1, after it didn't receive any payments.

Merritt mayor Susan Roline called news of the debts disappointing.

"If they continue to operate that way it puts the event in a bad light. The event is excellent for the community — it's well attended."

It was held in a number of places throughout the community, including rodeo grounds and civic centre. Organizers said they attracted 15,000 people to the event, providing an estimated $2-million boost to the Nicola Valley economy.

Following the rally this summer, organizers declared the event a success but complained about overzealous policing. The company's website makes a reference to a 2013 event on July 10-14, but provides no details.

The company met with council as recently as last month in its bid to host a third event. Roline said some of those discussions were in-camera but she confirmed that policing costs are one of the sticking points.

The court documents also claim the operators paid themselves a personal salary, in contravention of the agreement.

Great Canadian Bike Rally has yet to file a defence for the claim. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Community Futures is seeking repayment of funds, costs and ability to apply a judgment against Paul Fairfield's Merritt home.


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