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Strathcona rural and municipal directors disagree on recreation study

Rural directors say study would not affect them, don’t want to pay for it
Strathcona Gardens is one of many recreation opportunities that could be investigated during a feasibility study. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

The rural-urban divide was clear as the Strathcona Regional District debated a feasibility study on recreation in the area.

Despite all electoral area directors voting against it, the regional district will be moving forward with a $50,000 feasibility study about how they could provide recreation services more efficiently.

The goal is to see where things can be streamlined between the City of Campbell River, the regional district and other municipalities, and to find ways to provide more recreation services for people living in all parts of the regional district. The scope of the project would not be limited to the Strathcona Gardens, but would look at recreation on a holistic level.

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“This is just to ensure that we’re not duplicating services and getting the best programs available provided by the two services, and getting some communication going back and forth, which I think always helps,” said Andy Adams, chair of the Strathcona Gardens Commission where this item first came up on April 14.

“We’re just looking to see if there’s some kind of economy of scale. We know there’s no appetite for anything if it costs the city or Area D more as participants,” added chief administrative officer Dave Leitch.

However, Area D director Brenda Leigh did not want her constituency involved. Area D pays into the Strathcona Gardens as part of property taxes, and Leigh said that they are “paying more than our fair share.”

“We have lots of lakes, rivers and beaches that we recreate on out here. We don’t need city services. We’ve got more than enough with Strathcona Gardens,” she added.

Later at the regional board table, the other electoral area directors echoed Leigh’s sentiments. Directors Gerald Whalley, Jim Abram and Leigh all voiced their opposition because they felt the feasibility study was not necessary, saying that the amount of use that recreation facilities like Strathcona Gardens get from people living in the electoral areas is minuscule, and the directors felt that contributing money to a study that largely would not affect them. Director Noba Anderson was concerned with putting money towards something that was not identified in the regional district’s strategic planning. Director Martin Davis also concurred with the electoral area directors.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with staff bringing back a report that confirms what I’m saying, but we’re spending $50,000 to do it,” said Electoral Area A director Whalley.

“I’m sure there’s better ways to spend $50,000,” Leigh added. “We have other problems in our region other than the cost of recreation.”

Conversely, directors from Sayward, Campbell River and Gold River all spoke in favour of the idea. Chair Brad Unger, representative from Gold River said that he supports it “100 per cent because we are a region, not areas A, B, C and D.”

The board voted to go ahead with the study, with all four directors from electoral areas voting against it.

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