by EVAN MATTHEWS
The arena in Valemount won’t close this August, but taxpayers are on the hook for a little bit more, as the Canoe Valley Recreation Centre asks taxpayers to foot the bill for 21 per cent more than last year.
The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG) approved the arena’s 2017 budget at the Mar. 16 board meeting. The Canoe Valley Rec Centre operates the arena and a fitness room.
This year’s budget supports a requisition (the amount collected from taxpayers) of $373,460, which includes a roughly 21 per cent increase from 2016’s $294,530 requisition. The 2017 total operating budget comes to $601,110, which is subject to change slightly over the course of the year. User fees and other revenues make up the rest of the budget revenue.
The regional district says the tax increase will ensure there are sufficient funds in reserves in case of a major equipment failure or major repairs to the building and for future capital projects.
Upcoming repairs include a compressor rebuild, installing infrastructure to recapture surplus heat — which will reduce propane cost substantially — and to have a dedicated change room for the exercise room clients, according to the RDFFG’s General Manager of Community Services, Donna Munt.
Grant funding will also need to be secured for this work to be completed, Munt says.
The compressor rebuild is scheduled for 2018, and will be completed with or without grant money, according to Munt, while the other projects will be scheduled if the RDFFG (and CVRC) are successful in receiving a grant.
The regional district also budgeted additional funds to keep the centre open during August on a trial basis. Gym users have expressed frustration over the closure.
The regional district said in a statement that it’s also searching for grant money to assist with future capital upgrades. Most grant programs require matching funds, hence having sufficient reserve funds.
When asked about when the last substantial increase to the Canoe Valley Recreation Centre’s annual requisition was, the RDFFG could not confirm by presstime, saying only there was a 1 per cent increase to the requisition over 2013-14, and no requisition increases over 2015-16.
However, at it’s Dec. 13 meeting, Councillor Sandy Salt recalled a 25 per cent increase back in 2011.
“We’re not even 10 years out, we’re only five, and they’re looking for another 25 per cent increase… What’s happening that there are such big increases?” she asked.
While the requisition is going up, former Village of Valemount interim-CAO Gord Simmons said the increase doesn’t necessarily mean the district will use the full allotment.
“There’s no guarantee (the regional district) will go to the maximum each year… They could go under,” Simmons said at the Dec. 13 meeting. “But they won’t go over.”