BV Rec sprucing up local parks and facilities

$20,000 was allocated by the BV Rec Commission for the much needed upgrades that include a new set of bleachers at the Bernie McMahon Field.

After 30 years of youngsters playing on the swings, slide and funhouse at the Montrose Park, it’s time for the village to replace the now faded equipment with some shiny modern features.

The village was allocated $20,000 by the Beaver Valley Recreation (BV Rec) Commission for the much needed upgrades that include a new set of bleachers at the Bernie McMahon Field.

The old ones were deemed no longer safe by municipal insurers last year along with the existing swing set and weathered play structure.

Montrose council reconvened Monday night after a one-month hiatus, and talks turned to how to best direct the money for the improvements which are slated to begin this fall.

The bleachers surpassed its usable life, and are a maintenance and safety issue, noted Kevin Chartres, Montrose chief administrative officer, to council. “They were first on our list to replace after the risk management update recommendation.”

After some back-and-forth, council agreed to invest in five new items, including 18-foot bleachers for $5,800;  an $8,700 basket swing that’s described as a play space and surface; a $6,600 “cottage” for children ages six months to four years; two bike racks; and improved playground signage.

The Montrose Park is the only outdoor space in the village covered under BV Rec, and is one of many projects currently underway or in the planning stage for that area.

The communities may have additional funds available to spend on its parks and facilities in the coming seasons, but that isn’t the case this year.

When BV’s Rec commission chose not renew an agreement with the City of Trail effective Jan. 1, that left Montrose, Fruitvale, and Area A with money, more than $200,000, that it no longer had to pay to the city for recreational services.

Those funds are not being spent, explained Ali Grieve, Area A director and BV Rec chair, noting that there is no way to determine what the finally tally of the reimbursement program will be by year-end.

“The number of improvement projects are based on the previous year’s budget,” she said. “We are not spending that money because we don’t know where it (tally) will be at the end of the day.”

Since the end of the recreation agreement, residents in those communities have been paying double the fees upfront in Trail facilities, then submitting receipts for reimbursement from BV Rec.

From January to July, a total of 377 reimbursement were given out to Beaver Valley residents, totalling just over $25,000, according the latest regional district figures.

Mark Daines, manager of facilities and recreation at the regional district, said usage of the Aquatic Centre pool comprised 74 per cent of the reimbursements while the remaining 26 per cent comprised other recreational programs and fitness.

Further, 181 Fruitvale residents received money back; 106 in Montrose and 90 people living in Area A.

BV Rec continues to review community input that was documented earlier this year, to solidify plans for future recreation, noted Grieve, adding that there’s been significant increase in usage of the Beaver Valley Family Park as a result of improvements made over the past couple of years.

The commission is looking at developing more trails, having playground equipment in Mazzochi Park, a new roof on the Beaver Valley Arena, and a continuation of the communities’ summer programs.

“We have done a lot of great stuff over the past couple of years,” said Grieve. “And are very excited to begin the planning process for 2015.”

This year, facility improvements at the arena included installation of an electronic bulletin board, a new Zamboni and a new dehumidifier.

Trisha Davison, Trail’s director of parks and recreation, said the city’s facilities and programs have been full including swimming lessons and summer camps.

She said during a quick review, it appears that slightly less people from the Beaver Valley are using services at this time, but until a full year has come and gone, it’s difficult to quantify the full impact of the change to the recreation service.

“Usage seems to be steady and similar to that in previous years,” she added.