Strathcona Regional District doesn’t want to play with Campbell River

Rejects proposal to conduct joint review of recreation facilities

The Strathcona Regional District board has denied the city’s request for funding to participate in a joint review of community recreation services.

Electoral directors at the Jan. 24 board meeting said they didn’t feel comfortable putting money towards city facilities which don’t benefit people living outside the city limits aside from those in Area D who contribute to and enjoy the facilities at Strathcona Gardens.

Brenda Leigh, director for Area D, said her area has no interest in participating in a recreational services review.

“We cannot afford anymore. I don’t think it’s fair to consider Area D paying for any Campbell River sports facilities,” Leigh said. “I think this is wrong, it’s inconsiderate of what Area D contributes to Campbell River. I feel that we are doing above and beyond what an electoral area should contribute to municipal recreation.

“I’m not contributing one more red cent to any more facilities in Campbell River. We’re already contributing more than what can be expected of an electoral area,” Leigh said.

Coun. Andy Adams, and alternate regional district director, said the point of the review was to try and save costs in the long term.

“The intent of this is to not do any takeover. Area D has certainly been very supportive of the Strathcona Gardens Commission,” Adams said. “The tone of the report is to look at operational efficiencies.”

The city sent a letter to the regional district board last July to request the regional district help the city in identifying potential opportunities for efficiencies and cost savings related to community recreation facilities and programs.

“Campbell River tax dollars are at a premium and with the city providing 85 per cent of the funding for the Strathcona Gardens budget, council has determined it is in the best interest of taxpayers to review the operation of recreation facilities and services provided to the community to look for improvements,” Adams said in a news release issued by the city last July.

“There is excellent co-operation between the two recreation functions and council believes we should look at every possibility to streamline service delivery to reduce costs.”

But regional district directors were unsure and asked for Chief Administrative Officer Brian Reardon’s advice.

Reardon said the city’s intent is to ensure the money for recreational facilities is coming from the right place and said there is a benefit to the regional district to look into that.

“The study the City of Campbell River is looking for is not uncommon,” he said. “I believe it would be a worthwhile exercise, doing this particular activity.”

Adams also tried to reassure the board the money was not going into operating city facilities, saying that “if it was, I wouldn’t be supporting the motion.”

In the end, though, directors voted to deny the funding request for the review and instead have city and regional district staff work together to look over information from Strathcona Gardens and “quantify the issues that are of concern to them.”

Directors Walter Jakeway, Adams, Mary Storry, Larry Samson and Ron Kerr were opposed to that motion.