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No recreation programs in Rossland this fall?

The current recreation programs administrator is leaving and no replacement has been hired.  What's the plan for recreation programs in Rossland?  

The plan (at this time) for recreation programs this fall is to not have or support any programs.  If everyone shrugs their shoulders, and moves on, you can expect the complete absense of community recreation programs to become the norm.

 

I am confused about Janice's comment.   The Rossland Seniors Assoc. have several on going programs at the seniors hall (or will begin again when the 1st Ave. construction is complete)  We have a quilters group on Monday evenings; a stretching program for seniors on Thursday mornings; an art program on Monday afternoons; Bridge happens on Friday afternoons and an open writers meeting every 1st & 3rd Wed of the month.  We don't need hand outs from the city to keep our programs going.  

Les

Les Anderson, let's see if I can help you out.  Of the 3720 people who live in Rossland, it sounds like the Senior's association has covered the percentage who want to participate in the programs offered by the Senior's Hall.  What would you suggest the rest of the population do?  Do you think that since you don't take advantage of these community programs, that everyone who wants to participate should drive down the hill and pay the non-resident costs to recreate in Trail?  This isn't asking for a handout, it's asking the city to maintain the programs that they have historically offered, at a reasonable price for all of the seniors, adults and children of our community.  You have been, and are, a ferocious advocate for the Senior's of Rossland, if they were reducing the programs accessible to seniors, and I made the comment you just did, you would go ballistic- and rightfully so.  It's incredibly selfish to assume that programs you don't personally use have no value to the community as a whole.  I would also suggest that as a life long resident of Rossland, that either you or another member of your family HAS participated in one of the programs offered by rossland recreation in the past, so it's also not on to take advantage of programs when it suits you, and then suggest we eliminate them when you are done with them.  I'll tuck your comment away about not asking for handouts for the future.  I'm sure the seniors association will aways be entirely self sufficiant, and will never ask for any assistance from the city.

The latest Council Matters in the Telegraph states that the motion to no longer support the RR services and have users deal directly with SD20 failed.  So where does that leave us?  I am one of the organisers for indoor soccer and we wanted to see if we could expand this year as we constantly have more interest than spots, the plan would be to have a Women's night and and Men's night.  Any council members out there want to provide some clarity on what the plan is moving forward for RR?

Hi Phunksean

Crystal Lewis is working part time in the recreation departemt.  Drop by and talk to her.  I organize the coed rap in hockey Tuesday nights and it's a go for this season.

Hope that helps 

cheers bail44.

 

Hi Phunksean,
My fiance is very interested in joining the indoor soccer this fall/winter.  I contact Rossland Rec to sign him up but was told the same thing about there no longer being a Rossland Rec administrator.  How does he go about signing up?  He just wants to ensure he doesn't miss out as last year it was full by the time we moved here.

Not sure Ashley, when I know more I will post here.

I was one of the Councillors that voted against scrapping Rossland Rec coordination of RSS programming (soccer, volleyball, pickleball, basketball and tennis, I think).  But I'm ashamed to say I can't tell you yet where that leaves us now.  I am trying hard to find out the status of those RSS programs, and also of fall programming in general.  When I get a picture of what's going on I will post here. As noted above, Crystal Lewis is coordinating Rec part time this fall, working Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Thank you Aaron, I cannot believe it has come down to this. This affects all: kids, seniors, and adults; and I feel this will be remembered by many when the next local elections come up.

I remember playing "Sim City" as a kid, and noticing that the quickest way to lose at the game was to decrease or cut off arts and recreation - who nedds that anyway - so you could increase infrastructure, etc.  The reason you lost at the game was because crime and migrationaway  would skyrocket and could not be stabilized quickly enough after realizing the mistake. Our town will go "nuts" once the Fall weather sets in and there is no organized indoor stuff happening.

I kind of see why the City is taking this drastic step, but I do not agree with it or how they have gone about it, talk about a knee-jerk reaction! At the least, the advertisement for Fall activities should have been arranged with contact numbers...and organizers should have been given the opportunity to arrange their own collection of fees, etc. And, of course, insurance is a whole other issue.

 

Jorge.

 

It's a bummer to be sure. However, as someone whose degree is in Recreation/Outdoor Recreation & Park Management and who worked in that arena for most of my career in cities large and small towns, I can tell you that in ANY city of ANY size that is facing budget challenges, Parks & Rec is the FIRST area that's cut, and is cut harder than any other city departments. I went through this many times, including program cuts or elimination and layoffs. Which is why I eventually changed careers.

Of course I hate that the programs and services I hold most dear, and believe really add to the quality of people's lives, are the first cut. But I also understand it: the number one priority service that towns and cities provide is basic infrastructure: sewer, water, roads. Plus in this town, garbage, recycling and snow removal. Snow removal from city streets is one of the reasons we have high property tax rates for a town this size. Previous councils did not adequately address infrastructure needs, nor raise enough taxes to save for and/or pay for them. It all wound up in the lap of this mayor and council. So they did the right thing and prioritized sewer and water line replacement in an efficient way that had the Province paying for the majority of the repaving, instead of adding that cost on also. Again boring, but remember that next election: they're the people who did what needed to be done -  and faced the wrath of citizens who thought they should be able to do everything.

So now the piper must be paid. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and the vast majority of money to pay for city services comes through property taxes. If you don't own property, maybe you don't think this affects you, but it does: if taxes go up, rents do also.  Or more owners decide they can make up the increased tax cost more easily by turning their rental into an Air B&B, making it yet harder for seasonal people to find a place to live. Maybe you do own property and are higher income and don't mind the rates raising astronomically. But there are lower-income and fixed income folks here who can't bear a huge tax increase burden. So how do we pay for this infrastructure and services? It must be done through 1. raising property taxes or 2. cutting programs or 3. a combination of the above. The council went through a giant public input process on the budget, and they're doing #3.  They've been very open about the situation we're in, and the information is there for anyone who wants to see it.

So of course I hate to see recreation programs axed. But what is your solution? If your roof suddenly needed replacing, maybe you'd have to cut that November Hawaiian holiday or road trip to the American Southwest you had planned. Even though you really want it, really need a break from November drizzle until the snow arrives, your family is looking forward to it, etcetera etcetera. There are many reasons to argue for going on that vacation, but as a responsible person managing your own finances you'd realize something has to go; the holiday or your roof. If you chose to go on holiday rather than fixing your roof, water may damage the structure of your house, causing mold problems, damaging your family's health and costing more down the line.  So a responsible person would choose to cut the non-essential spending - recreation -  no matter how much they wanted to go, and deal with the disappointment. That's the situation we're in folks.

If someone can come up with a way to pay for everything we want that does not involve taxing people to the breaking point, in a town that already has comparatively high property taxes, I am all ears. But just being angry and demanding that we want everything and somehow the council and mayor should figure out a way to pay for it: well, that stance is unrealistic. I can understand being upset and disappointed; but it is what it is.

So what is the real solution? Maybe, bummer of bummers, we don't have a City rec department for awhile. Maybe we must do the free stuff offered around here until the snow flies: hike, bike, go to the lakes and kayak, play baseball or soccer or outdoor basketball with friends instead of in a league, go for a jog, play tag or hide and seek or catch with the kids. Maybe more kids get involved in the YAN program.  Maybe we take enrichment classes from Selkirk Community College. Maybe we pay local artists directly for painting lessons. Maybe once the skate park is built skateboarders and scooters go use it. When it gets cold and the snow flies, maybe we ice skate outdoors, go snowshoeing, cross country or alpine skiing or snowboarding. Maybe when we're in Castlegar on an errand, a half-hour away, we pay to use their pool and weight room (they don't charge Rossland residents what Trail charges.) Maybe we sign up for one of the many privately-offered yoga, tai chi, pilates, stretching, martial arts, and similar programs that are offered in Rossland, or buy a membership to the gym. Unless we have the personal funds to join in the Trail rec leagues, maybe we don't have that for a while. But it is not like we're in the inner city with nothing else to do. Rossland and the surrounding area is rich with outdoor and other recreation opportunities.

Meanwhile, the snow is cleared from the roads so we can make it out to walk and ski, and our toilets flush and clean water comes out of the faucet, and our garbage and recycling gets picked up. Boring, completely and utterly boring, but necessary. We tend to assume these things happen automatically and somewhat magically, but they don't.  A governmental entity must build, maintain, and deliver these services, and we must pay for them. Perhaps in the future, once we're in a better financial situation, we can start adding the icing to the basic cake and have a full recreation department again.

But if someone knows how to get everything you want on a limited income without prioritizing spending, please share. I'd personally like to be able to do that in my own life. Alas, I must make hard choices. As do the Mayor and Council. And the rest of us who live in this beautiful little slice of heaven.

After reading all of the comments, and acertaining that there will be no recreation services in Rossland, could someone tell me what the part time recreation coordinator will be doing?

 

Perhaps a call to city hall will answer that question for you. Otherwise, well said luvithere.

@luvithere... Great points! VERY well said. Thank you for the input!!

Luvithere makes wonderful points, for sure.

BUT - not having recreational programs will surely be a deterrent to families seeking activities for our kids. Remember the uproar when kids in grades 11 + 12 suddenly were going to be bussed down the hill? The reaction to seeking recreation activities elsewhere will be the same.

It is crazy to think that cutting the recreation department is an acceptable action to save money. This isn't a good thing, and the consequences will be detrimental to this community.

HECK - I WOULD SIT AT THAT REC DESK VOLUNTARILY if that meant we could continue recreational programming in this community (I'm serious). I'm flabbergasted that this literally just happened, out of nowhere, without even asking the community to collectively put our brains together to see if we could come up with a feasible solution. C'mon folks!!!! This community is incredible, surely - surely - there is a way to come together and keep recreation alive.

Not everybody mountain bikes. Not everybody skis. Recreation programs are a vital part of a healthy, dynamic community.

My two cents.

Miche

Well written Luvithere, but I have a few clarifications about some of your information.  It may or may not change your opinion, but I think it’s important for everyone to have all the information they need or want to make informed decisions and opinions.

Firstly, the recreation programs that Aaron Cosbey is discussing, and that were discussed in the recent council meetings are run through a reciprocal agreement with SD20 that gives the city free access to the school gymnasium.  This agreement was the result of the city providing funds (taxpayer money) to RSS for renovations and repairs in the past to keep the school in the community.  Most of the programs are run by volunteer facilitators, so the cost to the city is almost non-existent, and these programs, if managed well, could be excellent revenue generators for the city.  Cutting these programs will not make any kind of significant difference in the city’s balance sheet, and removes an opportunity to generate revenue.  Also, the 2 vacant positions in the recreation department are covered in our current budget, they just haven’t been filled since the previous employees left.  Another example of the neglectful management this particular department has functioned under for the last 8 years.

Everyone seems to miss an important point about raising revenue for the city and balancing budgets.  The simplest equation is that we either raise taxes, or cut services, as Luvithere mentioned.  However, there is another way to increase revenue and that is to grow our tax base.  Rossland has added over 300 new residences in the last 10 years.  That’s 300 more sources of revenue.  Along with that outstanding growth, we have also increased our permanent resident households by over 200 and our population by 450.  No other community in the region, including Castlegar and Nelson have grown even half as much as we have.  Why is that, do you think?  Another way to grow your tax base is to add industry.  Trail collected $7.4 million dollars in industrial taxes in 2016, so we could solve our budgetary woes by recruiting a pulp mill or refinery within our city limits.

You mentioned our high property tax rates twice in your discussion.  What information do you base that opinion on?  If we compare Rossland to other communities that have a similar tax composition (mostly residential) and with a similar level of services, on average the Total taxes and Charges (the complete cost of home ownership per year) are almost $1000 higher than ours, and the cost of purchasing a home is 4 times as much as buying here.  If we look at the RDKB, and express the annual costs of Taxes and Charges as a percentage of Assessed House Value, Trail, Warfield, Grand Forks and Greenwood all pay a higher tax rate than we do, ranking us the fourth least expensive community in the region to pay taxes in.

You also discussed the “giant public input process” that the city went through regarding the budget.  Some additional information regarding that process.  48 home owners participated in the initial public input.  We have 1820 homes in town, so that is 2.6% of our homeowners.  An additional 30-ish residents provided input via email for a total of 75 people, or 2% of our population.  In addition, approximately 350 people reviewed and supplied input on Thought Exchange, 9.4% of our population, if we assume everyone who participated lives here, and no one participated multiple times on different devices.  I’m not sure I’d use the word “giant” for those numbers.  Unfortunately, there is an even larger problem with the public input process, and that is that the information put together for the public to give their opinion on was lacking in substance, incorrectly calculated, and/or wildly exaggerated.  The cost of taxes and home ownership in other communities were not compared accurately, the calculation of how much our taxes would go up was mis-calculated by $250-$350 dollars (regional, hospital and school taxes are set separately from our municipal taxes, and not affected by our rate changes), and the costs of our facilities was presented as more than 2 times the actual costs.  So, while I whole hearted support the intention of the public input process, the implementation was sorely lacking.  We ended up with the community’s opinion on alternative facts.  Garbage in, garbage out.  And we paid for that process, too.

One more thing.  You used the analogy of a vacation vs a roof, and suggested that “a responsible person would choose to cut the non-essential spending – recreation”.  In 2016, while this Mayor and council were cutting $250,000 from our growing communities budget, based on the erroneous and superficial information they had been provided, and going hard at recreation, they spent $480,000 of taxpayer’s money (not grants) on the Miner’s Hall.  That’s almost the equivalent of an entire year’s recreation budget.  A lovely building with great historical importance, but not what any of us would call essential in relation to water, sewer, snow removal etc.  The Miner’s Hall has a historical cost recovery of 20-25%, so we shouldn’t expect to see a sudden boost in city revenue from that source.

You are absolutely correct that previous councils have not implemented a taxation structure that would continue to support the ongoing infrastructure, recreational and cultural costs of our community.  Why are we applauding this council for continuing down the same path?  We have grown because of the services and opportunities that we offer our residents.  If taxation rates were the primary driver for where people choose to live, all the communities surrounding us, with apparently lower taxation costs, should be growing faster than we are.

 

I would be happy to sit down and show you all the sources of the information I have discussed here.  For that to happen, you will have to give me your real name.  You have mine, and you can e-mail me through the bhubble portal, if you are so inclined.  Thanks for taking the time to join the discussion.

I spent some time in Hagensborg/Bella Coola (a much smaller center than here) payed a fee and was able to participate in volleyball, basketball and slow pitch that were all coordinated by community individuals and played throughout the valley in various facilities. Kids soccer was also played in the gym 2 a week and again, run by local volunteers. Perhaps I have missed the obvious, but why do organized sports have to be run through the city? Is it an insurance issue using the school districts facilites? Is it a volunteer issue?

Thank you Janice for putting some facts on the table!!

Luvithere, most of us are aware of all the points you made - I specifically pointed out that I understand where the City is coming from. It is just that this is not - and should not be -  a black-and-white issue as you portray it to be. Furthermore, my comments and those of others on this thread mostly point to people been left hanging not knowing where to go or who to ask just to find a volunteer-run rec program. The City was the hub for information, specifically thru the seasonal recreational brochures.

Stephanie, ALL the programs in rossland are run by volunteers. Again the city was the hub for information and, yes, insurance is the bigger issue if you want to run a program on SD20 or City property.

For what is worth, this is taken from the Central Coast regional District, of which the townsite of Bella Coola is part:

"Bella Coola Valley Parks and Recreation 

Recreation Programming 

      Volleyball 

 

      Slow Pitch 

 


Parks and Recreation in the Bella Coola Valley is supported by tax dollars which are levied on land and improvements in the area, user fees, and a portion of the provincial basic grant received annually from the Province of B.C.   

For further information, email to info@ccrd-bc.ca ."

Cheers.

insurance is not the issue as the rec programs that happen at RSS are required to have their own insurance, at least indoor soccer was required to have it.

With all due respect Sean, insurance is definitely one of the issues. Anybody wanting to do their own little rec program using SD20, SD93, or City property is required to have insurance.

For example, if you want to organize kid's indoor soccer at the French school they require you to have proof of insurance, so unless you are part of an organization such as Rossland Football Club you are on your own. There was a time when the City covered the insurance and the organizer paid the insurance fee back to the City. That allowed us to have way more athletic programs than we now have, as organizers just have too much trouble getting their own insurance to bother - paying for it was never the problem.

I would, however, agree with you that insurance is not the worst issue. Again, the point that many of us have made here and elsewhere, is that there is no centralized place from where to direct people to the array or rec choices available. As I said, I am quite aware of the City's financial situation and priorities, and I agree the City should keep finding efficiencies in every deparment. The City does not arrange insurance or collect fees any longer. Efficiencies have been found, so all that is just left for them to be is that centralized place by means of the brochure. Would that really be that expensive?

Going cold turkey has left people like you posting their event on bhubble, when it would have been very productive to have it advertised as well for the last while on the Fall Rec brochure. Sure, your case may not be the best example, as you have a well-established event with returning teams; but how about people trying to start new programs? The effects of this policy will not be apparent for a while, but I believe they will eventually be obvious as there are less offerings.

Incidentally I, too, wonder what the 3-day-a-week part time rec coordinator is being used for...

re-read my post Jorge, thanks for re-iterating my point that programs require their own insurance.

and everyone should re-read Aaron Cosbey's post, to date Rossland Rec isn't cancelled (yet), so far it just doesn't have a full-time co-ordinator at City Hall.

take a deep breath, we can do this with or without help from Council.

Wish I had more information on this - it's been added to the agenda for our meeting on Monday.  Will post more then.  In the meantime:

Council never made a decision to cut Rec programming, so while I fully agree with Luvithere's points, this was not a case of consciously prioritizing other things over recreation.  This is why I am keen to find out what happened and what programming will still be available this fall.  I've been told there will be a scaled down fall rec brochure produced.  And that rec coordinators from the RSS activities can contact Crystal to book their gym time. (But I am one of those coordinators, for volleyball, and haven't heard anything yet.  I get the impression that Crystal is a bit swamped.)

Insurance is an issue for the RSS activities (volleyball, soccer, pickleball, tennis, basketball).  While the programs were operating under Rossland Rec we were covered under their insurance. If we had to just book directly with SD20 we would need to go purchase our own.  Sean, are you saying you had to go buy insurance for soccer? We never did for voleyball and I know pickleball didn't either.

Even if there is a blip this fall, which I still hope we we can avoid, we should be back on track by winter session. As I said, Council never intentionally allowed rec to be axed. Staff has been trying to figure out how to improve the rec department funcitoning for some time now, including setting up an arena task force that has done some great work.  But I fear it has taken a back seat to a host of other pressing stuff - in that sense Luthivere is right about rec suffering from neglect because of other priorities.  But by the winter we will have a more permanent solution, whether that looks like a recreation manager to replace the part-time positions, or something else.

It is September now, I see the Rossland Rec website is sitll showing everything from summer.  Any update on what will be happening this fall/winter?

Sorry - late with the update: We've approved hiring of a Director of Recreation and Culture that will report directly to the CAO, and a 0.8 FTE programmer. 

The good news:  this is going to be a huge improvement from the past when the rec department were pretty much left on their own to manage - reporting to the CAO means they are part of the management team.  And having a director means someone who's job description is taking charge of managing the facilities (arena, pool, library, tennis courts, curling rink, miner's hall) and programming.  Posting for the position is out, deadline by end of month, someone chosen by late October (?) and start date as soon as possible thereafter.

The bad news: until those people get in place we have only a part-time programmer who is also a full-time student and without a lot of experience in the job.  We will be issuing (I've been told) a scaled-down fall brochure, but it's not out yet and it will be scaled down.  Expect some chaos in programming until the winter session. 

Bottom line: the chaos in transition is totally our (the City's) fault.  We are fully aware of, and are really sorry for, how this will impact Rossland Rec users.  We're hoping the situation come the winter session and thereafter will be much better.