The District of Sicamous is lobbying to take over operations of its local recreation centre.
At its Aug. 23 meeting, council voted on whether to negotiate with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) to take over operational management of the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre. The facility was run by the non-profit Sicamous and District Recreation Centre Society from the early 1980s until 2021, when the CSRD awarded Ontario-based company Nustadia Recreation the contract to manage the facility.
As of June 1, 2022, the CSRD has been overseeing the facility’s management and operations.
At the Aug. 23 council meeting, a motion was passed five to one for the district to negotiate with the CSRD to transfer operational management to the district. Negotiations will begin once it is practical to do so for both parties.
According to the motion, taxpayers of Sicamous are on track to contribute $357,250 to the operation of the arena in 2023’s budget, which represents over 62 per cent of the facility’s funding. The cost to taxpayers in 2019 was $212,462 and the jump is more than a 60 per cent increase in four years.
“The District of Sicamous has no role in the management of the facility but has been receiving many complaints and concerns from our user groups and local organizations about the lack of access and transparency at the arena,” reads the motion.
The district has requested to operate the facility and submitted a comprehensive plan and a proposal to take over. The district has, in the past, expressed a desire for local operation, as has the community, and the current council shares the same wish, as the issue has been discussed at previous meetings after community groups had raised concerns about a lack of available ice time and difficulty booking the facility.
“Sicamous needs a facility that works for our local communities and our taxpayers expect value and accountability for their tax dollars spent on public facilities,” continues the motion.
The meeting concluded with the resolution for staff to enter into the negotiations with the CSRD by March 1, 2024, and Coun. Siobhan Rich said it was a goal more than a hard deadline.
“We want to work as partners, because right now, Sicamous doesn’t have a say,” said Rich. “Really looking to manage it locally, and have the CSRD pay into it, because Swansea Point, Malakwa, Cambie… all those kids, adults, the beer league guys, that’s all a part of our community.”
Rich pointed to the part of the motion that noted the precedent has been set with the management of the Golden arena, which the CSRD owns but the town manages.
“That’s what we’re leaning towards, we just need to come up with a partnership where everybody feels heard and everybody gets what they need,” Rich emphasized.
Staff will also prepare a financial report to reflect cost escalations that have occurred at the arena the last four years to determine the cause and suggest potential remedies.