While the City of Trail announced a recreation deal with Warfield Thursday, it could be facing another stakeholder opting out of its agreement.
The deal between Area B and the City of Trail is set to expire at the end of this year, and Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Director Linda Worley heard input from taxpayers at a meeting on Wednesday at the Genelle Community Hall.
The majority of the residents in attendance voiced support for a reimbursement system like the one currently running in Area A.
It was revealed in the meeting that Area B/Lower Columbia-Old Glory has paid approximately $702,000 over the last five years, with only 164 residents actually using their Trail Resident Program (TRP) cards at Trail facilities – only 12 per cent of the area’s population.
Director of facilities with the RDKB Mark Daines was at the meeting to share the success of the Area A/Beaver Valley reimbursement program.
“Out of the $200,000, or so, the Beaver Valley was paying to Trail, this year, we reimbursed the citizens only $53,000,” he said. “Now Area A has around $150,000 to use in capital improvement projects. We were able to set up a simple program and the system is working.”
One attendee, who wished to remain anonymous, didn’t agree with the reimbursement program, voicing his support for another five-year deal with Trail.
“That recreation deal is the best thing that has happened to this community,” he said.
“I work out five times a week down there for health reasons and I have talked to some of the people that come in from the Beaver Valley and they aren’t happy. Opting out of the deal isn’t an option. It will backfire, I know it will.”
The rest of the room disagreed and felt that a reimbursement program was the way to go, focussing on local facilities and keeping recreation tax money in the community.
“I agree with the reimbursement program,” said an Area B resident.
“It will work. To opt out completely (like Rossland) would be a terrible mistake.
“It is important to support all of our facilities. On a reimbursement basis, not every tax payer would be on the hook for the small percentage of individuals who use (the Trail facilities).”
Margo Saunders, director of the Genelle Recreation Commission, was at the meeting. She sees the reimbursement program as a way for Area B residents to see how the situation could work in the future.
“If we opt out of a new recreation deal, then Trail will probably come to us in a year (like in Area A) and maybe we can change things,” she said. “Otherwise, we are stuck with the five-year deal. If we go with the reimbursement option, then we can revisit it every year.”
Without a five-year deal, Worley says that the money that would normally go to Trail would go to maintaining other recreation facilities that many residents outside of Area B use.
“We have the Blackjack ski trails and the disc golf course up there,” she told the group. “The Nancy Greene Park area and trails. All that area up there, is part of Area B taxation dollars. We pay to maintain those. What I am hearing is pretty well a general consensus that we go for user fees then reimbursement.”
Worley ended the meeting by letting residents know that no decision has been made yet, and she is going to continue gathering input about the situation. The deadline for the final word in Dec. 31.