Worries over service reductions at the Comox Valley Regional District’s recreational facilities have been mitigated.
On Feb. 6, Jennifer Zbinden, the senior manager of the CVRD’s recreation facilities, presented the recreation department’s five-year financial plan to the CVRD’s sports centre commission.
The plan highlighted possible service reductions and fee increases to the CVRD’s aquatic centre and sports centre. The cuts were proposed to offset operational challenges imposed by new safety regulations and personnel requirements in B.C.
Possibilities considered included later opening and earlier closing hours at the aquatic centre and hockey rink, reduced summer hours, and closures of certain facilities during non-peak times and Christmas and spring breaks.
But another presentation at the Feb. 20 sports centre commission meeting alleviated those concerns.
According to Zbinden, a higher-than-anticipated surplus carry-over from 2017, as well as lesser-than-expected debt servicing costs and some debt retirement, resulted in additional funds available to offset the challenges that were discussed two weeks prior.
“The new info since the Feb. 6 meeting is that the CVRD can provide a more accurate estimate of the 2017 year-end surplus, and this has been identified at approximately $488,000,” she told the commission on Feb. 20.
“The $488,000 will help offset the anticipated cost of regulatory changes and safety audit reviews.”
However, she acknowledged that a review of the recreation facilities’ user fees will be undertaken this spring. Fees could possibly increase at the CVRD’s recreation facilities next fall.
“Staff will report back to the commission in the spring with recommendations to updates to fees and charges,” she said.
Zbinden said the recreation department’s financial plan will maintain the 2017 tax requisition of $4,520,251 for 2018. One of the options brought up on Feb. 6 had been to increase the tax requisition.
Cumberland director Gwynn Sproule said she was pleased with the surplus but was surprised by its amount and where it came from.
“I’m very heartened to see we found a way through this impasse. It was pretty shocking news we got at the last meeting that we might have to reduce services, especially during the holidays,” she said at the meeting.
“But this surplus, where did it come from? It was a big surprise to me.”
Zbinden replied that the department’s year-end budgeting process comes to an end in late January and that the processing was perhaps not completed as of first reporting.