It is less than two weeks into the new year and indications that the end of the recreational relationship between the City of Trail and the Beaver Valley Recreation, Parks and Trails Committee (BVPARTS) may not be financially obvious yet but emotionally, things are heating up.
As of Jan. 1 and the end of the Recreation Services Agreement between the BVPARTS and the City of Trail, Beaver Valley residents wanting to stop in for a swim or a workout at the Aquatic Centre in Trail will be paying $12.20 per adult, instead of the $6.10 they would have paid prior to the end of the year, with rates for other activities varying depending on the service or facility.
“Initially, if there was a way to describe people’s reaction it was almost like a grieving process,” said Trisha Davison, director of parks and recreation for the City of Trail.
“People seem to be past that, now they’re moving into angry mode. People are angry and frustrated, they’re challenged in how to be heard.
“Our staff at the aquatic centre hear about it a lot. We’re open 16 hours a day, seven days a week and we get a lot of feedback. My hope is that they maintain the same degree of passion the next time they tell their story. They need to talk to the right people; their elected officials, the key decision makers in their areas. My hope is that the people who need to hear take notice.”
At this point there is no information on how BVPARTS will try to deal with the discrepancies in cost to use Trail facilities and participate in the variety of programs offered to youth and adults in the area through Trail Parks and Recreation but it will likely be a subject of discussion at the Beaver Valley Recreation meeting scheduled for Jan. 21.
“From a membership perspective it’s hard to say; from Dec. 6 to Dec 31, anybody who hasn’t renewed their membership won’t have seen the difference yet and in programs, a lot of people may have already registered at the lower cost,” explained Davison. “But there are definitely people buying at the higher rate, probably hoping for a refund.”
From the drop-in perspective, she said it’s business as usual.
“Since Jan. 1 people are still dropping in, people are still using the Trail Resident Program (TRP) cards,” she said.
“It would make sense that some people will choose to continue and hope for refunds.”
With over 30,000 annual drop-ins recorded at the aquatic centre Davison said it would be a daunting task to develop a system to monitor where each individual using the facility lives, although they are able to track TRP and non-TRP visits.
Statistics are maintained through registration for memberships and the various programs offered by Trail Parks and Recreation but some data is harder to determine.
“There are parts we can’t quantify,” said Davison. “For instance if someone books the ice at the arena we know where they’re from but we have no idea how many people show up or where they all live.”
Davison acknowledges the challenges of administering such a complex system of different facilities, programs, services, and activities while having to differentiate between residents and non-residents, tourists and school programs, all the while determining the appropriate rates for each category, and managing a municipal department with an annual operating budget of over $3.2 million.
But Davison maintains the importance of recreation to the greater community at large.
“No one talks about the indirect benefits to the community of having facilities and programs like these,” she said. “Whether you use it or not it is a value to the community by attracting people from other areas, people who are considering whether or not to move here for work. They look at what is available beyond just the job.”