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Large turnout for recreation meeting in Fruitvale

A crowd of more than 200 Beaver Valley residents gathered in the Fruitvale Memorial Hall Tuesday evening to engage in a community recreation consultation, after the area
A crowd of more than 200 Beaver Valley residents gathered in the Fruitvale Memorial Hall Tuesday evening to engage in a community recreation consultation, after the area's committee ended a cost-sharing agreement with the City of Trail, which doubled user rates.
— image credit: Sheri Regnier

It was a full house at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall Tuesday evening when over 200 people turned up to talk with the area's recreation committee about the end of an agreement which has the Beaver Valley community paying double the fees to keep active in City of Trail facilities.

The three-person Beaver Valley Recreation, Parks and Trails Committee (BVPARTS), comprised of Area A director and chair Ali Grieve, Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini (director) and Montrose Coun. and regional district director Don Duclos, announced its decision not to renew, renegotiate or extend the recreation services agreement with the City of Trail effective Jan. 1.

The well-run meeting was facilitated by Ann Damude, an events manager from Rossland, and opened with Grieve and Cecchini providing background information which led to BVPARTS ending the five-year recreation contract.

Absent from the table was Duclos, the Montrose representative in BVPARTS, who has since changed his stance to end the agreement and now stands with fellow village councillors, who are in favour of renegotiating a deal with Trail.

The meeting began with Grieve saying the rec agreement with Trail required an accounting of how the city has spent $1.2 million the valley communities have contributed to the service since 2009, and those numbers have not been forthcoming.

“It was not sufficient to know how many Trail residency cards were issued,” she said. “We need to know the usage of each of those cards to determine the value of our program.”

The three-term director seized the opportunity of the large gathering of constituents to address the underlying issue that ended the agreement, which is Trail's intent to expand city boundaries to include the Waneta Dam in Area A.

“This process is being controlled by the City of Trail and the province,” she said. “It impacts all of the Beaver Valley and in my view it would not be fiscally responsible for us to enter into any new agreement or contract,” Grieve continued. “Without knowing what the impacts of a boundary expansion would have on us should it proceed.”

Cecchini reiterated Grieve's viewpoint and said, “We did not feel that we had enough information to renew the contract. We came to realize we could not enter into a new contract and extend any further financial commitments until the proposal has been settled or gone away.”

However, the mood of the meeting remained focused on addressing recreation concerns.

From there, the public consultation split into round-table discussions in groups of six, with one “guide” at each seating, to answer a series of questions ranging from how current BV facilities can be improved, what new facilities and programs the community would like to see, and the pros and cons of entering into a new rec deal with Trail.

In addition, attendees were invited to fill out individual questionnaires that will be added to 161 already completed surveys, and compiled in a report scheduled for public release around mid-February.

Next, the crowd heard from Mark Daines, manager of facilities and recreation for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), who revealed three options the rec committee is considering to reimburse residents who currently or plan to recreate in Trail facilities.

Daines noted that the options are only in a conceptual stage, and no firm decision will be made until public input has been studied.

In a nutshell, the RDKB is proposing active reimbursement, meaning upon proof of receipt, the user will be fully reimbursed; purchasing passes at full price from the City of Trail and then reselling them to residents; or going through an application process, whereby clubs or groups can fill out paperwork, which will be reviewed and verified before issuing funds.

Again, the crowd gathered at the round tables to mull over the options before random people were chosen to state the pros and cons of each scenario.

At this point, the gathering started to become restless with the occasional resident asking a question out of turn, such as “when do I get reimbursed, this week?” and “how about you go to the City of Trail to renegotiate?” with both questions receiving a round of applause from the floor.

Shortly after 8 p.m., the meeting turned to a brief open microphone question and answer period.

Although many of the questions posed were touched upon during the consultation, the general consensus seemed to be, that those present at the meeting, were in favour of settling a new agreement with Trail.

“I understand from the newspaper articles that Trail is willing to renegotiate,” said Montrose resident Barb Leavitt. “Is there any chance that if the consensus here is that people want you to negotiate, can you go back and negotiate a deal for this year (2014)?”

Trail has not approached Beaver Valley to renew the contract, explained Grieve.

During a previous meeting with the city, the rec committee suggested recreation return to a regionally run service.

“We need more face-to-face with our neighbours,” said Grieve. “That has not been happening and they have never approached us to renew the contract.”

The evening closed with the next steps planned, which include time to analyze and digest the night's information before it is shared in a report, and no further meeting is scheduled with Trail.

“We initiated a meeting a couple of weeks ago,” said Grieve. “Both parties committed to meet on a more regular basis to improve

communication.”

All residents of the Beaver Valley were subject to increased rates beginning in January, under the Trail Resident Program for facilities covered by the agreement including the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre, leisure programming, the Willi Krause Field House and Haley Park.

 

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