All members of our respective communities should be gravely concerned about the recreation issues facing our region. This issue is far more than “do I use the service or not” or “frequency of use”. The impact of the decisions around the region are far greater reaching.
Local governments are able to create societal conditions that support healthy behaviours and choices for citizens. Local governments have the power to impact policy, develop communities, and establish and support societal values. Municipal recreation is shown to be “essential to personal health and wellbeing, provide the key to balanced human development, provide a foundation for quality of life, reduce self-destructive and anti-social behaviour, build strong families and healthy communities, reduce health care, and are a significant economic generator.”
Over 100+ users groups provide “recreation” to our region through Trail Parks and Recreation facilities and parks. Volunteer-led recreation based organizations are our single largest partner in recreation service delivery. These regional decisions impact virtually every one of these groups. In 2012, over 7,700 hours were booked through Trail Parks & Recreation by user groups representing 10 different sports and various community events. Trail Parks and Recreation provided direct programs for an additional 900 hours in park facilities.
Every one of these hours was used by multijurisdictional groups. Informal uses are not accounted for in this figure – walking Haley Track, playing tennis, or a visiting Gyro Park.
Interior Health released a “Local Area Profile” in October 2012 for the “Trail Local Health Area” (Trail, Warfield, Rossland) which compares how the local area rates in areas such as health status and social determinants of health. In all areas related to the chronic disease prevalence rates, the Trail Local Health area ranked higher than both the IHA and provincial statistics by a range of .6 to 2.7%. Specifically, the chronic diseases looked at included depression, asthma, COPD, diabetes, dementia, and heart failure.
In Trail, Parks and Recreation staff work with local service providers within the region – mental health, the Trail Association for Community Living, rehabilitation therapists, minor sport groups, adult sport groups, the Interior Health Authority, private sector organizations, Trail Fair Society, the School District, and service clubs. All of these organizations serve people that cross municipal boundaries and in many cases are mandated to do so.
One example of impact resulting from the funding situation is the current development of a comprehensive leisure access program that was in the Trail Parks and Recreation operational plan for 2014.
This program would require partnerships with social service providers who serve people facing barriers to participation (financial, social or otherwise). This type of program would require certainty of funding or it becomes in jeopardy.
The dual rate system does not compensate for the loss of operating funds previously provided by surrounding communities. It is likely that the reduction of these funds will negatively impact the City of Trail’s ability to sustain operations to the levels seen today. Although the reimbursement system in the region may benefit users in those communities that provide it, the net removal of operating funds and the impact to service remains and therefore everyone is impacted.
Trail Parks and Recreation has an operating budget of $3.4m for 2014.
Over the past three years, Trail has made capital improvements to the major recreation infrastructure in excess of $4.1m. Currently capital expenditures are the sole responsibility of the Trail taxpayer. Regional contributions assisted with operating budgets.
What will it take for the region to feel the impact these regional decisions will have on all our communities?
Will it be unmaintained sports fields, reduced hours at the pool, less employment opportunities, the inability to host sporting events or will it be less people moving or wanting to live here, a poor economy, lower rates of health and wellness in our communities, or a lack of community pride? These decisions will cost us all one way or another.
See full article at www.trail.ca under Parks & Recreation, Directors Report.
City of Trail Parks and Recreation Director