Rossland residents want their arena to stay put, but not necessarily with the ice. And they aren’t so attached to the city pool, either.
Council released the results of a survey on recreation priorities in Rossland at its meeting this week.
But while the survey gives local politicians some insight into the public’s thinking on recreation, the mayor cautions that more consultations will happen before council will act on those sentiments.
The survey, conducted by MODUS Planning, Design and Engagement of Vancouver, asked residents this summer what their priorities were for the various recreation facilities in Rossland.
The results show Rosslanders like their private business facilities, such as the ski hill, with 73 per cent of the nearly 1,000 respondents saying they prefer to use those over the public facilities. About the same number, 72 per cent, say they use the biking and hiking trails around town.
After those, the Rossland Arena, the Miners’ Hall, library and pool were the most used city facilities, with usage rates between 37‐46 per cent. The facility most used outside of the city was the Trail Aquatic Centre, with 45 per cent.
While the vast majority of Rosslanders — 89 per cent — say they want the city to keep using the aging hockey arena in some capacity, they are much more divided on what to use it for. Fifty-five per cent of respondents want ice to still be produced at the arena, while 45 per cent don’t want the city to maintain an ice surface.
The 8o-year-old Rossland pool’s future seems tied to what happens with access to the Trail Aquatic Centre. Fifty-eight per cent of respondents wanted to close the Rossland pool. A quarter of respondents only wanted that to happen if there was an alternative swimming option, like the Star Gulch, or if a settlement was made with Trail for use of its pool.
There is an ongoing spat between Trail and Rossland over the use of the Aquatic Centre. Forty-seven per cent of Rosslanders say they wanted the cities to resolve the dispute, while one-third said they opposed burying the hatchet. About 20 per cent were undecided.
The 10-year-old Trail Residents Program allows residents of the area to pay reduced rates for access to the city’s aquatic centre and other recreation facilities and programs, while non-residents pay full price. All local communities except Rossland are part of the TRP.
But while residents want their facilities, they also told MODUS they don’t want to pay a lot more. Residents say they are willing to pay up to a three-per-cent tax increase to support ongoing maintenance of Rossland’s aging facilities.
But Mayor Kathy Moore cautions that those numbers were just ballpark estimates and council will go back to the public with firmer estimates in hand before any decisions are made.
“We want some real options with costs attached to them,” Moore says. “The MODUS public engagement had real general ideas to get people thinking, like, ‘Would you be willing to pay a three-per-cent tax increase to pay for these things? Would you pay six per cent?’”
The study is only the second phase of council’s development of a proper recreation and facilities plan. Moore says council is forming a recreation committee, with councillors, staff and members of the public, to help guide the next steps.
“There will be no definitive decisions yet. This is for council information and the new council will [determine] the new direction we want to take. That includes all the facilities in town, and what— if anything— we want to do about joining some of Trail’s facilities.”
That process is expected to continue well into the new year.