The long-awaited Draft 2 of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan Report is pointing us in a direction that supposedly will guide our municipality for years to come.
The report undoubtedly covers many good points but two areas of particular interest to me, give me cause for concern:
1. That by renaming the Seniors Centre and changing the membership structure or fees, we will increase participation;
2. That adding a fitness facility to the Brennan Park Centre is a priority.
Regarding the Seniors Centre issue, reading the reportís conclusion, one is left to assume that this recommendation is supported either by research or by a broad support of potential users who made their opinion known at the various public meetings or through surveys.
But in fact this is not so. As was kindly shared with me by City Hall, these specific recommendations are based on opinions by either staff and/or the consultant.
The proposal for a fitness facility concerns me greatly as a taxpayer. The report tells us that the provision of a fitness facility is a high priority but does not support that conclusion with a sound business plan. Without it, should we accept that making a $1.5 million investment is justified in these difficult financial times in which we find ourselves? The $50,000 annual operating cost also needs to be supported, for it hardly appears to pay for the wages and benefits of one additional staff member. A proper business plan would lay all this out so the community could make an informed decision. Surely a bank would not lend for such a venture if it were private and unsupported by sound financial planning. Our District should ask for nothing less. But we are told that we are pushing ahead with this and that the design is already in the early stages.
We are fortunate to have private fitness facilities in our community whose owners work hard to make a go of it. So how can competing with them by building a publicly funded facility send the desired message that Squamish is open for business?
The fact that the district is still struggling with an Adventure Centre unable to pay its own way gives me no confidence that the proposed fitness facility will be anything more than a further drain on our already strained financial resources.
It is noteworthy that there are many objections to the fitness centre proposal recorded in the 243-page appendix to the report, voiced by respondents to surveys or attendees at public meetings which are not reflected in the reportís final conclusion.
Squamish home and business owners are taxed to the max and cannot afford any more ventures into uncharted territory.
Herbert Vesely, P.Eng.
Member, Seniors Centre Advisory Board