Trail council agreed to waive $4,000 in sports pass fees for 23 Rossland youth participating in Trail Minor Baseball.(Photo by Jon Eckert on Unsplash)

Trail council pitches relief to Rossland ballplayers

Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore said it’s time to look at the future of recreation funding

There’s no crying in baseball, even though this latest balk against young Rossland players is just plain sad.

Trail council agreed to a one-time bail out of $4,000 for minor league baseball to cover 2017 fees for 23 Rossland youth who played – and still play – baseball in Andy Bilesky Park.

The City of Rossland refused to reimburse $3,967.50 to the user group – which is actually Trail Minor Baseball – leaving the league owing those dollars to the City of Trail to cover outstanding TRP Sports Pass costs.

Sounds complicated, but it’s really not, says Trail Mayor Mike Martin.

The bottom line is Trail taxpayers cannot keep bailing out Rossland when it comes to cash shortfalls in team sports – whether it’s commercial hockey, competitive swimming or minor baseball – that’s not a fair game.

“The TRP is there to recognize that the cost of providing first class regionally-used facilities should not be at the expense of Trail taxpayers alone who are subsidizing those facilities for the benefit of others who don’t want to be part of it,” Martin clarified.

“We don’t have an issue with Warfield or Beaver Valley, I think there is a pretty simple solution.”

Another way of looking at it, is that the city’s facilities – the Aquatic Centre, Trail Memorial Centre, Haley Park and the Willi Krause Fieldhouse – were maintained through regional cost-sharing until the agreement broke down 10 years ago when Rossland walked away.

“The expectation is that these folks could walk away from the regional facilities and regional agreement in 2008 and just come back at no cost,” Martin added. “And it’s the Trail taxpayer, for the most part, who are funding those facilities.”

He pointed out that recreation represents the city’s biggest budget apportionment, which this year sits at $4-plus million.

“Rossland council can come to the table at any time to negotiate a recreation funding agreement consistent with what is in place with Warfield and Beaver Valley,” Martin added. “So all of their residents can enjoy these facilities.”

Besides being fun for the youngsters, affordability is one of the best aspects to Trail Minor Baseball – fees start at $50 for the youngest group and top at $115 for pre-teen Little Leaguers.

How it works, is user groups like minor baseball, charge Rossland parents a certain percentage of the added expense of a TRP Sports Pass, which, for this particular age group, runs at $230. Then the user group will seek the balance from Rossland council who, in 2017, changed its policy to only provide 25 per cent reimbursement. When that pot dried up, the league was left on the hook and owing 75 per cent of the sports pass costs – or $4,000 – to the City of Trail.

“This group does a fantastic job with minor league baseball and they just got themselves caught up in a political situation here,” Martin said. “And again, it’s very sad that Rossland council couldn’t come to the table to follow through on an expected reimbursement program for the Little League group.”

This has happened in the past when the City of Trail agreed to waive $3,200 for Rossland players in commercial hockey and $5,760 for Rossland members of the Stingrays swim club.

“The City of Trail has a very well developed sports pass program and provides clear instructions to various user groups regarding the collection of the non‐resident sports pass fees,” Chief Administrative David Perhudoff noted.

“Which were designed to be paid directly by each individual non‐resident participant and not reimbursed by the community the participant resides in. From (my) perspective, it does seem rather ironic that the group is now appealing to the City of Trail rather than trying to garner the public support to get the City of Rossland to provide this funding.”

Notably, Warfield and the Beaver Valley communities of Montrose, Fruitvale and Area A briefly withdrew but re-negotiated new terms with the city a few years ago. Additionally, Area B no longer pays into regional recreation, however, unlike Rossland, residents of all ages are fully reimbursed upon proof of receipt.

Perehudoff concluded, “Beaver Valley is a good example where after dealing with a liberal reimbursement program … came to the city and a five-year funding agreement between Trail and BV PARTS was reached.”

Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore told the Rossland News earlier this month that it’s time for her city to debate the future of recreation funding.

“We haven’t worked out details yet but we are going to talk to Rossland residents over the next few months and try to figure it out.

“Do we want to make a deal with Trail, or are we where we were 10 years ago, where the majority of Rossland residents don’t care?” she asked. “Do we want to keep our pool, the arena? How many people are using our facilities? Do you prefer we don’t have these things and just use Trail’s?”

Those questions should be answered in a comprehensive survey and public engagement plan, says Moore, which should begin in the next few months.

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