Even before this week’s three-day financial planning marathon took place, it was clear there were going to be some cuts happening to the City of Campbell River’s budget next year.
As the pre-budget discussions wrapped up at the Oct. 19 council meeting, there were already plenty of cuts made to next year’s plan, including service reductions at the airport and the closure of Centennial Pool to make up for the loss of gaming revenue caused by the closure of the casino.
“If the gaming revenue comes back earlier than we think,” says Coun. Claire Moglove, “we do have the opportunity to open the pool next year.”
Mayor Andy Adams says the closure of the pool was one of the “pretty tough decisions that are going to have to be made,” and calling it “one of the unfortunate casualties” of the cuts required to balance next year’s budget.
“This is certainly not one that I would have liked to see happen,” Adams says, “but understanding the challenges that are going to be before us next week as we begin financial planning deliberations … I would certainly agree with Coun. Moglove that if there is some way, somehow, for us to open it up as we see what the springtime is looking like, I hope we have the opportunity to do so.”
Then, during budget deliberations themselves, the pool closure spurred a discussion about when the renovations should take place on the change room facilities.
In the draft budget, the $350,000 renovations were scheduled to occur in 2022, but Mayor Andy Adams suggested moving them forward to next year to take advantage of the closure.
Council was told there are sufficient funds in the facilities reserve to take that project on for next year, but there might not be the staff resources with all the other facilities projects to which the city has already committed staff time.
Director of Operations Drew Hadfield told council that they create the timeline for projects in the budget based on the staff’s capacity to complete them, “so if we are going to be moving any projects from future years forward, we’d have to look at what we might have to move in order to balance that workload.”
Fleet and Facilities Manager Jason Decksheimer told council the city could hold off on the repairs to the Maritime Heritage Centre envelope for a year in order to free up staff time to complete the renovations on the Centennial Pool changehouse.
Mayor Adams suggested that it be left up to city staff to determine in which order it makes the most sense to complete the projects, as they come from the same funding source, so it doesn’t matter in terms of budgeting, and thanked them for the work they are already undertaking on the city’s facilities.
“It is going to be an extraordinary year for us,” Decksheimer admits, “as will the the following year. You can see some really healthy expenditures (in the budget) in terms of investments into our facilities portfolio over the next few years.”
Some of those other expenditures include some significant roof repairs on the Community Centre, the RCMP building and the Museum at Campbell River, along with structural repairs to the Discovery Pier.