Cranbrook hopes to talk recreation with RDEK

Council is hoping to find a solution to end the two-tier resident/non-resident fee structure for use of recreation facilities

Council is hoping to find a solution to end the two-tier resident/non-resident fee structure that is currently in place for use of recreation facilities in Cranbrook

The City of Cranbrook will be inviting the Regional District of East Kootenay to enter into discussions on establishing a joint recreation commission or committee to oversee the goals and operations of the community’s recreation services.

Council voted on sending the invitation at the Monday, May 26 regular meeting.

Coun. Bob Whetham said this puts forward the actual figures, which should facilitate discussions to begin.

“I think up until now it’s been kind of debated in principle,” Whetham said. “It’s not really provided anybody with the information that they would need to have to understand where the city is coming from, trying to come up with a more equitable formula for sharing cost of the facilities that are actually used by not only ourselves, but surrounding residents.”

Mayor Wayne Stetski said it’s a two-part question.

“One is shared financial responsibility in the future and the other is what model of governance would make that cost sharing work best?” Stetski said.

Cranbrook taxpayers pay $3.9 million of the $5 million annual operating costs of Cranbrook’s recreational facilities. The other $1.1 million comes from user fees for use of the facilities.

The $5 million includes operating costs for Western Financial Place, the Memorial and Kinsmen Arenas, the curling centre, Moir, Kinsmen and Confederation Parks, as well as leisure services administration and debt servicing for the Memorial and Western Financial.

Debt repayment for Western Financial Place itself makes up $1.6 million of that total.

Mayor Wayne Stetski said it’s not an unusual formula.

“The Town of Creston, for example – their recreation complex is done in a shared financial formula with the Regional District of Central Kootenay,” he said, noting Golden also has a similar agreement. “So this is not a new concept. It’s a fairly standard way to do business.”

Coun. Angus Davis said the formula is workable and was reminiscent of the situation with the Cranbrook Public Library.

“Up to that time the thought was that it would never open,” he said. “But there was a dedicated group that worked.”