There could be troubling times ahead for West Shore Parks and Recreation.
The West Shore Parks and Recreation Society, which manages the operation, said there has been a roughly eight per cent decline in revenue this year.
A number of factors have led to the decline, said board chair Ed Watson, including losing some residents to the new YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island facility in Westhills, which opened last year and has led to a decrease in net pool revenues of roughly $40,000.
The cancellation of the popular Rock the Shores Festival, due to lack of headliners, which was expected to bring in more than $30,000, and the wet spring interfering with golf also had an impact on the society.
“We continue to provide services which are either low cost or no cost. I think we served about 3,500 kids in summer programs this year that were free or at very little cost. Those are the sorts of things that usually private corporations or private competitors get involved in … and that’s what’s happening to us,” Watson said.
“We expect to get some of that revenue back but until things settle out a little bit, we’re not sure exactly how that will affect us.”
West Shore Parks and Recreation is run by 15 board members who represent each of the five municipalities on the West Shore. Every year, the board puts forward an operating budget for the money required to run the facilities, which include the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, Centennial Centre, and The Q Centre, among other things.
Part of the decline in funds was the City of Langford’s decision earlier this year to reject the proposed $5 million requisition for 2017. That rejection forced the society to operate again on the 2016 budget, which translates to a roughly $75,000 shortfall this year.
Mayor Stew Young said the City has been calling on the society to implement a different governance model for years – one that doesn’t increase Langford’s share year after year, since it already pays for recreation facilities both within the city and to the society, unlike the other municipalities that just pay into the society. Young acknowledged the shortfalls the society is facing, but said it should look at increasing the portion that the four other municipalities pay.
“Langford is paying astronomically more for recreation per capita than the other municipalities that are contributing to recreation,” he said. “We’re saying we’re not going to continue to pay at that high level when nobody else is paying the excess …We’re just trying to get a bit of fairness in it.”
For now, Watson said the department will “make ends meet” this year, however, next year will be a different story. Unless something can be done to increase revenues, Watson expects the department will face several thousands of dollars in shortfalls in 2018.
The society is not looking at cutting services at this time, but will have to look at potentially reducing facility maintenance next year and into the future.
“Basically it’s like a homeowner who doesn’t want to fix his roof because he has to use his money to buy food. It’s really an issue of income and eventually your infrastructure is going to suffer,” Watson said.
“There’s all kinds of things in that facility that make it, in my view, the best of its kind in British Columbia. But in order to keep it at that level we need to spend some money to keep it up … we’re going to have to make some pretty hard decisions in 2018.”