City to help fund Salmonbellies book

Former New Westminster Salmonbellies
Former New Westminster Salmonbellies' captain Paul Parnell was known as the 'Gordie Howe of lacrosse' when the scoring star patrolled the green hardwood floor at Queen's Park Arena during the 1960s and ’70s.

The City of New Westminster is going to assist a group in its goal of producing an illustrated history of the New Westminster Salmonbellies to celebrate its 125th anniversary.

City council will contribute $10,000 to the publication, even though the city's heritage grant committee turned down an application from the group in December.

The book is being put together by Bruce MacDonald, who grew up near Queen's Park watching the Salmonbellies in their glory days of the 1960s and '70s, through his company Invisible Hand Legacy Books, with financial backing from team alumni.

In December, committee member Vladimir Krasnagor told council the application for $44,000 was rejected because it well exceeded the $25,000 available for the committee to distribute and because it was for a private enterprise.

But Coun. Chuck Puchmayr, a former governor of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, convinced council to provide financial support for the project.

"We need to have a look at this one. This is the Montreal Canadiens of lacrosse and they just happen to be in our city," said Puchmayr. "This is the greatest lacrosse team of the past and hopefully of the future. This is a worthy project that brings a lot to the city."

MacDonald said while the investors will get their money back, the net proceeds will go to the club. "It's not really what you would call a commercial enterprise, there's just some costs involved in it."

He emphasized the book is not just about a team that happens to play lacrosse, but a heritage and cultural story as well.

"My book makes the argument the Salmonbellies are the No. 1 cultural export of the city. It's the Salmonbellies that made the city famous, not the other way around," said MacDonald. "It's not just another group looking for funding, it's a team that's really come to represent the city and done a lot for it economically."

Coun. Bill Harper noted the city in the past has financially helped authors such as Jim Wolf and Don Benson publish historical books.

"This is an organization that's an institution in the city, it's interwoven with the history in the city, it's something that council felt needed to be done," said Harper.

He added it was particularly appropriate considering the hall of fame will be moved into the Anvil Centre when it's completed next year.

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