OUT ON A LIMB: Campbell River residents’ budget priorities come into focus

Chopping a year’s operation of the Campbell River Sportsplex was going too far

So, the debate is underway and the battle lines are being drawn.

It became apparent fairly quickly that chopping a year’s operation of the Campbell River Sportsplex was going too far to save money in the city’s 2012 budget. So, that establishes one benchmark. It may get shut down for a few months yet but the idea of closing it for a year to save money on the budget was essentially a non-starter. Good thing too because it would have made us look really bad.

Would we really have been so tightfisted as to not run such an important recreational facility for a year?

Yes, we still would have the Strathcona Gardens arena and pool but remember, those are run by the Strathcona Regional District.

And, of course, there is still a gymnasium in the Community Centre but having shut down the Sportsplex, what would stop people suggesting we don’t operate the Community Centre?

Are we in such dire straits that we couldn’t pony up another hundred bucks or so a year to keep some of our services? Because that’s the issue. Some people say we are.

I did get one e-mail suggesting it is hard to decide who is more clueless, city council, or we the media. Boy you sure you know how to hurt a guy.

The point being taken was that we have to face the cold, hard facts that we’re in dire straits and we have to be willing to make the tough decisions like closing the Sportsplex.

But do we? Of course, recreation is always the first thing to get chopped. It’s not that important, is it?  Parks too. The other quick suggestion was that we cut the grass less frequently.

But recreation and parks are not the cream of the crop in a city. They’re the lifeblood. The things to do are what make this community liveable.

Plus, there’s the argument that recreation is an investment in health, i.e., as in the prevention of heart disease, cancer and all manner of self-inflicted decrepitude that will cost millions to treat later on.

Meanwhile, we are blessed with thousands of square miles of natural spaces, so we could get by without a freshly-mown Willow Point Park. I’ve probably spent more time at the Campbell River estuary than I have at the Sportsplex in recent years.

We don’t have the money, goes the argument. But do we not? What are we spending our money on and why don’t we cut something else?

Do we really need to pay city councillors? Hey, I’m the first to say they’re dedication to their community is unmatched by any other public service.

But perhaps it should be voluntary. I know they don’t do it for the money anyway.

And then there’s all that money spent on Rivercorp…for what?