A decision made by three people during a closed meeting left Montrose Mayor Joe Danchuk feeling “blindsided” and “disappointed” with the outcome along with many active residents in the village.
The three-person Beaver Valley Recreation, Parks and Trails Committee (BVPARTS), comprised of Area A director and chair Ali Grieve, Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini (alternate director) and Montrose Coun. and regional district director Don Duclos, announced its decision not to renew, renegotiate or extend the recreation services agreement with the City of Trail on Dec. 4.
“Montrose was totally in the dark about this decision,” said Danchuk. “The unilateral decision to withdraw from the recreation services agreement was made without consulting anyone else,” he continued. “Which has left me and our residents disappointed that the political state in our area is missing the point of recreation for all.”
All residents of Montrose, Fruitvale and Electoral Area A will be subject to higher rates under the Trail Resident Program (TRP) in the new year, for facilities covered by the agreement including the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre, leisure programming, the Willi Krause Field House and Haley Park.
Danchuk said the village has received numerous calls from a cross-section of people who regularly use the Trail facilities, including swim club kids, people who train at the aquatic centre, ball players, pickleball members and gym users.
“After listening to all the people and the phone calls we’ve been getting I cannot say how disappointed and saddened I am by the fact that this decision was made without consulting people in the community.”
A group of concerned Montrose citizens approached council Monday night to address the decision which could have village residents paying double the fees on Jan. 1.
“I have been using the Trail gym for 15 years,” said Montrose resident and first-time council attendee Fran Jones.
“I first heard about this and how the fees will be going up when I went to use the gym and buy a 20-time pass on Dec. 9,” she explained.
“I am a senior and pay $77 for the pass but that could double for me now. I do not think that a decision like this should be made behind closed doors without consulting any of us.”
In response to the growing list of Montrose residents troubled by the decision, Danchuk and council unanimously passed a motion Monday night officially stating disappointment in both the decision and that it was made during a closed meeting without plan or consultation with the users of the program.
Coun. Duclos, a member of the committee that ended the recreation agreement, voted in favour with Montrose council Tuesday night, thereby second guessing his original decision.
“Speaking for myself I wish more thought was put into this,” he said. “In hindsight I wish I could go back,” Duclos said. “That’s about all I can say.”
Additionally, a resolution was carried to issue a letter to BVPARTS with a copy to the regional district requesting the committee to rescind its decision to withdraw from the service until such a time a plan is in place which is acceptable to the user.
“We are asking for the decision to be reversed until a plan is more thought out,” said Danchuk. “And down the road we need to look at a review of the Beaver Valley recreation committee.”
Further, Montrose council directed staff to approach Trail to request possible costs for the village to enter into its own agreement with the city.