Speculation over selling Strathcona Gardens prompts letter to facility staff

Coun. Andy Adams tries to put Strathcona Gardens employees' minds at ease in clarifying letter

A letter has been circulated to staff at Strathcona Gardens surrounding the future of the complex amidst speculation the recreation facility could be sold.

The memo, which was written by Strathcona Gardens Commission Chair Andy Adams, comes following discussions at the regional district table – which were reported in the Mirror in April – around selling Strathcona Gardens to the city.

“You have probably heard much in the local media lately about the future of Strathcona Gardens recreation facility…that studies are being considered, that services are being reviewed as to what may be provided at similar facilities, that there may be opportunities to share or combine services, or even that the regional district should consider selling Strathcona Gardens to the City of Campbell River,” Adams wrote. “I could tell you that these are simply stories that help to sell newspapers, however the truth of it is that all of these have been the subject of discussion and debate among elected officials and senior staff.”

Campbell River city councillors who also sit at the regional district board table are concerned that the city is doubling up on recreational programs that Strathcona Gardens already offers and vice versa.

“There is duplicity of service, there is duplicity of programs,” said director and city councillor Claire Moglove at a regional board meeting April 10. “We, the City of Campbell River, are trying the best we can to have a regional function so that everyone would benefit and in my view the city has been stymied at every step along the way.”

The city had approached the regional district last year to participate in a joint recreational service review to determine if savings could be found by better co-ordinating programs and activities.

But the regional district balked as some directors viewed it as the regional district paying for the city to get a better hold on its recreational facilities.

Instead, the Strathcona Gardens Commission opted to do its own operational review of the Gardens. Regional directors have also requested regional district staff report back to the board on the feasibility, costs, and implications of having the city purchase Strathcona Gardens, after Mayor Walter Jakeway brought up the possibility at a regional district meeting last month.

Adams said the onus is on government officials to look into every possible lead.

“As elected leaders in our communities the directors on the regional board need to be sure that we are doing everything possible to be as fiscally responsible to ratepayers as we can,” Adams said.

“They expect nothing less. This does not mean that we need to, or want to, sacrifice services that people depend on. What it does mean is that we cannot ignore opportunities to become more efficient in the delivery of those services to the public.”

Adams said the operational review will look at all the services Strathcona Gardens provides and the way in which they’re provided.

“We anticipate that the results of our evaluation will show that the Strathcona Gardens is managed and operated in an efficient manner,” Adams said. “However, if we can find ways to better rationalize the manner in which our services are being provided, we will want to consider these carefully.”