The mayor of Rossland says it’s time to talk seriously about the future of recreation in Rossland.
Kathy Moore’s calling for a public debate on recreation issues — the first in 10 years — to determine what the city should pay for, and shouldn’t.
“That’s one of the things we want to do here, and we’re working on it now, is a much more comprehensive recreation public engagement,” said Moore. “We haven’t worked out details yet but we are going to talk to Rossland residents over the next few months and try to figure out.”
Recreation services is one of the biggest sectors of the City budget, with council spending about a million dollars annually to maintain recreation facilities and provide programming.
But nagging problems remain unresolved- like the higher fees Rossland residents pay to use Trail facilities.
It’s a convoluted history, but goes back to when a pan-regional recreation system fell apart with the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary. Rossland, having its own facilities, voted against paying Trail to subsidize its facilities — so residents pay more to use them on an individual basis.
“What ended up happening, Trail charges Rossland residents double what they charge anyone else,” says Moore. “So there’s a punitive aspect to it that really rubs Rossland residents the wrong way.”
Moore says she’d like to see the issue revisited both with Rossland residents, and with the City of Trail- though she admits it’s not on that community’s radar yet.
“I would love us to have a conversation with Trail on this issue, but they have a lot of things going on down there and I don’t think there’s an appetite for it,” she says.
But she says it could be in Trail’s benefit to do so. She notes Rosslander’s use of the Trail pool has dropped from 12 per cent to just three per cent. Coming to some agreement to change the fee schedule might prompt more Rosslanders to use Trail facilties, increasing their revenue.
“My feeling is if we sat down and put heads together we could come up with some solution,” she says.
The city also faces some serious decisions about the community’s own facilities. Council has to come up with $200,000 in safety-mandated changes to the arena before the fall… but the 60-year-old building eventually needs more than $1 million in repairs and upgrades. Now’s the time to decide just what should be done, says Moore.
“We can come up with $110,000 and hope the community can fundraise,” she says. “But the bigger question is if we use all our reserves to open in the fall, and something breaks, we don’t have money to fix it.
“And what is long-term plan for arena? If we took the ice out we could do all sorts of other things with the building.”
These are all questions that the people of Rossland have to consider, debate and vote on, she says.
“We can do anything citizens of Rossland want, provided they are willing to pay for it,” she says. “There’s nothing to say we can’t build a year-round swimming pool. It’s a ludicrous idea, but we could do it if people are willing to pay for it.”
There are other issues too – like the Trail Recreation Program fund that supports seniors and youth to use Trail facilities. The program has been cut to the point where it’s inadequate, and doesn’t help some who might want to use it.
Moore says the bottom line is it’s time for the City to talk to residents about the facilities they have, what they cost to operate, and who participates and who doesn’t. A comprehensive plan would direct the City’s money and energy more efficiently.
“Do we want to make a deal with Trail, or are we where we were 10 years ago, where the majority of Rossland residents don’t care?” she asks. “Do you want to keep the pool, the arena? How many people are using our facilities? Do you prefer we don’t have these things and just use Trail’s?”
Those questions should be answered in a comprehensive survey and public engagement plan, says Moore, which should begin in the next few months.
“This is going to be a big deal.”