The Strathcona Regional District will be approving refund requests for all user groups whose bookings have been affected by the ongoing United Steelworkers strike at the Strathcona Gardens facility.
The workers have been on strike since Nov. 1 asking for a cost of living agreement from the SRD. The strike has affected the gym, pool and programming at the facility, but the SRD has offered use of the ice rink facility, which would be operated by qualified managerial staff. However, the Strathcona Gardens commission voted to approve any refund requests from user groups.
The groups that did not cross the picket line, according to the staff report presented to the commission, were: the Campbell River Storm, the Campbell River Minor Hockey Association, the Campbell River Skating Club, the Pioneer Hockey League, the Campbell River Men’s Hockey League, the Campbell River Women’s Hockey League, the Old Timer’s Hockey League, the Campbell River Fading Stars, the Campbell River Nordiques and Next Level Training.
Only one group has requested a refund, the Campbell River Skating Club, which prompted the item on the commission agenda. Three options were presented to the commission. The first was to refund only groups whose activities could not be supported by the SRD managers who were able to run the rinks. The second was to approve refunds for all user groups affected and the third was to approve none.
Community Representative Cal Grunerud moved to approve refunds for all groups, and based on the low financial impact and public perception the motion passed.
“We’re in the midst of a PR campaign that I honestly don’t think we’re winning,” said commissioner Ron Kerr. “The negative effect of turning this down would be far worse than not supporting it.”
Chief administrative officer David Leitch agreed with Kerr’s thoughts, saying “I think it’s a good PR move for us to get ahead of it and offer them the refunds.”
SRD staff calculated the cost of the refunds to be roughly $2,282.44, with the largest chunk of that being the Campbell River Minor Hockey Association at $1,532.29.
One group left out of the calculations as presented to the commission were the Campbell River Storm, but Leitch said that the Storm are “not a real revenue generator for the regional district.”
“We subsidize their ice time, we have a specific rate for them that’s lower than the rest. We don’t get ticket revenue or alcohol revenue… We’re not missing out on a ton of revenue.”
Commission chair Andy Adams added that “there are no winners in the current situation.”