September Bearspaw Beat - Recreation Governance Committee
I hope everyone is ready for back to school and the start of Fall. It doesn’t matter how long summer is, it’s never long enough.
Recreation is a topic that impacts everyone – certainly one that is high on this Council’s list. With the advent of the Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board, one of the Board’s focuses is recreational servicing from a regional perspective.
Our current recreation model is from 1972 and consists of 10 volunteer boards. There is no denying it is outdated. As such, Council tasked our Manager of Recreation with streamlining the County’s recreation model. She did a fantastic job of providing us with two options: to divide the County into five divisions; or, to make Council the sole authority through a Recreation Governance Committee (RGC).
The majority on Council chose the RGC option. One argument was that the 10 boards didn’t allow for equitable distribution of funding. Another was that it the current process made it time consuming and cumbersome to receive funding. However, equitable distribution and streamlining funding could come through either model. Research on other municipalities indicated that there was a split as to which model was used.
The new model will rely on Community Recreation Co-ordinators (members of Administration) to do much of the work that was previously done by volunteers. These co-ordinators will embed themselves in the community and work with community groups to identify needs and make recommendations to the RGC.
While there is no denying that volunteerism is on the decline, I firmly believe that before Council made a decision, we should have asked our boards for their input. These volunteers have contributed countless hours to our communities, we should have considered their opinions.
At the same Council meeting, an application for $550,000 to provide a baseball diamond in Langdon was turned on its head and made into a $2.2 million request from the local Councillor, Deputy Reeve Al Schule.
The plan is to create a four-diamond park that would be used locally for 200 children enrolled in little league and more regionally for larger softball tournaments. The community group had raised $550,000 for one diamond and was asking the County to match them so that they could start on 2 of the 4 diamonds.
The $2.2 million makes up for half of the regional funding available. Langdon is in dire need of a recreational facility and while I certainly understand the merits of little league, my sons both play, baseball diamonds are a one-trick pony and are not multi-sport. I do not understand how a decision of this magnitude can be made on the fly without first evaluating and prioritizing the recreational needs of the entire County. Let’s hope the RGC makes more fulsome decisions in the future.