Fruitvale mayor offers reasoning for not renewing rec agreement

"The BVPARTS Committee, of which I am a member and Vice Chair, did not make this decision lightly."

The City of Trail has publicly, through news releases and letters to the editor, expressed their great concern and disappointment at the decision of the Beaver Valley Parks and Recreation Trails Service (BVPARTS) not to enter into a new agreement to transfer funds to the City of Trail so that Fruitvale, Montrose and Electoral Area “A” residents can use recreational amenities in Trail at the same fees as Trail residents.

The BVPARTS Committee, of which I am a member and Vice Chair, did not make this decision lightly.

The current five-year agreement expires at the end of 2013. During the period of this agreement, $1,020,292 of recreational funding has been transferred to the City of Trail.

Keeping in mind the magnitude of public funding that was being utilized to maintain this agreement, BVPARTS, questioned whether the agreement represented the best interests of the residents and taxpayers of the Beaver Valley.

While it is true that the City of Trail provided some information in July 2012, the data provided was general in nature, it was not current (the information was from 2011), and did not meet the requirements that were specified in the signed service agreement.

BVPARTS requested more specific and timely data but were told that there were limitations to the level of information the City of Trail could provide and the information provided, though minimal, was the best the City of Trail could do at that time. If the City of Trail, was concerned about the future of the agreement, they should have actively worked to develop a data collection system to provide their partners with data, that demonstrates the value of the service agreement.

Without current, valid and accurate data, BVPARTS was unable to determine whether the agreement provided value to our residents as a whole and whether the agreement represented the best interests of the residents and taxpayers of the Beaver Valley.

BVPARTS considered, given the fact that we have a functioning recreation department, whether it would be more efficient and cost effective to simply run a reimbursement program that assisted our residents to continue accessing recreation amenities in Trail, and perhaps other local leisure programs as well. Adopting such a model would provide absolute certainty that each and every dollar was spent benefiting our residents.

BVPARTS recognizes that some work will be needed to develop an efficient and effective program, but with the input, ideas and guidance of the residents of the Beaver Valley the program will meet the diverse needs of our entire community.  The community meeting to seek the advice of all Beaver Valley residents will be on January 21, 2014 and will help us do just that.

Just to be clear, the Beaver Valley has met all of our requirements under the current agreement; we did not breach the agreement in any way.

Our decision not to enter a new agreement, if one was offered, was not a criticism of the recreational amenities offered by the City of Trail. It was simply a decision, in light of all that is going on, to ensure that we are meeting our duty as stewards of the public tax dollars entrusted to us, to be efficient and effective and utilize the funds in a way to provide the most equitable benefit to our Beaver Valley residents.

On a closing note, I would like to improve our relationship with the City of Trail, as a strong partnership between the municipalities in the Lower Columbia is beneficial to everyone.

The fact is that the discussion around the proposed City of Trail boundary extension to take in the Columbia Gardens industrial area and to annex the Waneta Dam has strained the relationship significantly.

The City of Trail’s ongoing internal discussions and releases to local media stating that there is no need to share revenues generated by the proposed annexed properties; and that the Beaver Valley will need to raise taxes so that we can continue to offer the same level of recreational services to our residents causes great concern for us, both as a Recreation Committee and as community representatives.

True partners would discuss the issues and find the way to ensure every resident, regardless of where they live, benefits from the relationship.

Patricia Cecchini,Mayor Village of Fruitvale