Reimbursement program for Area B begins Jan. 1

No rec agreement means double the fees at Trail facilities

No backlash is the bellwether that the right decision was made, says Linda Worley.

The Area B director was speaking about her decision not to renew a recreation agreement with Trail.

Effective Jan. 1, anyone living in that area, which includes Genelle, Rivervale, Oasis, Casino and Blackjack, will pay double to use Trail facilities, and require a sports pass for activities like minor hockey and soccer.

So far, the news has made no ripples with constituents, she says. In fact, quite the opposite – the voting body is thanking her.

“I’ve had 17 individuals call me, which is just unheard of, saying. ‘Thank you for listening to what we are saying,’” Worley told the Trail Times.

“And they’ve said thank you for thinking about Area B’s health and not just over-riding our decision,” she added. “And there’s not been one call to the RDKB (Regional District of Kootenay Boundary) with people upset about not entering into an agreement.”

Neither party could reach a financial middle ground during negotiations last month, so Worley found a solution her electors consider agreeable – a pilot reimbursement program.

After hosting a public meeting, gathering insight through a survey, and talking door-to-door with voters, Worley says she’s heard a resounding message.

“It’s what the people want (reimbursement), spoken loud and clear,” she explained. “And it’s what is healthiest for the Area B coffers.”

Worley was new to the table when she signed the five-year agreement with Trail.

She was voted in during a 2010 byelection (after serving seven years as alternate director), which is also when the Area B referendum passed, making way for a tax hike related to the recreation deal.

Since then, Area B has contributed $702,000 toward a service that Worley, now in her second term, says only eight per cent of her populace uses.

“During the trial period we will closely monitor the number of people that are actually using the reimbursement program,” she explained. “And we are going crunch numbers in all fairness in order to have another look at the possibility of re-entering into something the following year, in 2017.”

The regional district will be mailing out information to all residents by Christmas informing them of the change, she continued.

“They’ll have plenty of time to read it and realize what the (new) procedures will be,” Worley explained. “It will be a very simple stop to the regional district office for a turnaround time of three days.”

Worley says pulling out of recreation doesn’t mean her area isn’t contributing to local services as a whole.

“My first loyalty is to the Area B folks and their tax dollars,” she said. “The regional district areas do their fair share contributing toward shared services like the hospital, but recreation is totally different because it’s only a shared service with Trail.”

Though Castlegar is in the Regional District of Central Kootenay, not the RDKB, Worley says the city holds options for her constituents.

“Mayor Chernoff has repeatedly told me to send all the Area B residents to Castlegar,” she said. “As anyone from anywhere can use the Castlegar facilities at the same rate as Castlegar residents.”

She says that’s coupled with the fact that anyone outside the Lower Columbia communities, visitors and otherwise, can use the Trail facilities at the same rate as Trail residents.

“We who support the Trail businesses and add to their economy in other ways beside the rec facilities are expected to pay more to the city,” she concluded. “That doesn’t make sense to me.”

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