Recreation revenue down sharply

Good weather, competition blamed for decrease in memberships and $500,000 revenue shortfall.

Revenue at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre and other city recreation centres was down in 2015.

Revenue at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre and other city recreation centres was down in 2015.

Good weather and increased competition saw membership sales at the City of Abbotsford’s recreation facilities dip sharply in 2015, leaving a $500,000 revenue gap.

The number of memberships sold decreased from 32,090 in 2014 to 26,989 last year, a drop of 15 per cent. With admissions making up the largest chunk of revenue at the city’s recreation facilities, that decrease saw the city take in about $500,000 less than expected, and around $350,000 less than in 2014.

City staff presented its annual parks, recreation and culture report at a recent council meeting and attributed the decrease both to new market pressures in the form of competition from other facilities, and to warm temperatures that allowed people to spend more time outside, rather than at the Abbotsford and Matsqui Recreation Centres or at local arenas.

Taxpayers contributed $5.1 million to the city’s recreation facilities in 2015, up from $4.3 million in 2014. The decrease in revenue contributed to about half the increased subsidy, with rising salary and contractor costs also affecting the recreation budget. The Abbotsford Recreation Centre received a taxpayer subsidy of $1.8 million, up $350,000 from last year. The city arenas received a combined $1.4 million, as did the Matsqui Recreation Centre.

Despite the recreation challenges, the city’s parks, recreation and culture department consumed fewer tax dollars last year than expected. That was due primarily to the parks department, where expenses came in around $500,000 under budget and about $330,000 lower than the previous year.

Tax dollars also went to cultural services, which recorded a subsidy of $913,335 in 2015, down about $31,000 from the previous year. The bulk of that went to The Reach, which received a grant of $625,000, on par with the amount it received in previous years. Other institutions receiving support included: the Abbotsford Youth Commission, which received $195,000; the MSA Museum Society, which received $75,000; Agrifair, which received $90,000; Abbotsford Arts Council, which received $18,000 ;and Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre, which received $14,000.

Overall, the parks, recreation and culture budget was subsidized by $12.3 million last year.

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