The Cowichan Valley Regional District intends to put to a referendum a funding model that could finally address the decades-old problem of finding a fair funding solution for the region’s recreation facilities.
After reviewing a number of alternative funding models for nine major recreational facilities in the region, the CVRD decided last year to go ahead with a usage-based funding model that would better reflect the proportion of the costs that each municipality and each electoral district would have to contribute to the continued maintenance and operation of each facility.
As part of this process, the nine recreation centers are now undertaking facility utilization studies to help develop the new equitable funding model.
Data on facility usage will inform a regional public referendum to implement a usage-based funding model to be held in conjunction with the upcoming municipal elections in October 2022.
The nine major recreation centers under consideration include those operated by the CVRD, the Municipality of North Cowichan, the Town of Ladysmith and the Chesterfield Sports Society.
They include the Cowichan Aquatic Center, Cowichan Community Center, Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, Cowichan Performing Arts Center, Cowichan Sportsplex, Ladysmith Frank Jameson Community Center, Fuller Lake Arena, Kerry Park Recreation Center, and Shawnigan Lake Community Center.
Currently, CVRD projects and recreation complexes are planned, built and funded on an ad hoc basis by interested sectors and municipalities within the regional district, rather than by the regional district as a whole.
This has led to years of infighting between sectors of the CVRD competing for recreation projects and funds, including funding for the maintenance and operation of the facilities.
Ian Morrison, CVRD director for Cowichan Lake South / Skutz Falls, said it’s been a running joke in the district for some time that if you don’t want to do anything you should be working on regional recreation projects.
He said during renovations to the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena 10 years ago, he saw a photo in the facility of local people and businesses coming together to build the center decades before.
“There weren’t any big grants and the local communities came together to build a lot of these facilities, and that’s where local pride and ownership came into play,” Morrison said.
“We have done a lot of work and the majority of regions and directors now agree that if we want to do it [find an equitable funding model], it should be done this way. This is a regional initiative and it is reasonable to expect that there will soon be a funding system in place that is fair to all people in the region. It would be a solution to a 50 year old problem.
The facility usage analysis continues through March 2022 and will be used in conjunction with a similar study that took place in 2017.
The intention will be to average the two sets of data to provide reliable results capturing people using these identified facilities.
When the public visits these recreational facilities by March 2022, they may be asked to provide their civic address to be used for this purpose.
The results of the facility use analysis will be made public in late spring 2022.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said the funding problem has been spreading for many years as people across CVRD use each other’s recreational facilities.
“We have people from North Cowichan going to Kerry Park Recreation Center to curl, people from Lake Cowichan going to Cowichan Aquatic Center and so on, so we really need to find a funding model that is fair for everything. the world, ”he said.
“There has been a growing awareness of inequalities in facility funding, and I think that the board’s willingness to move forward with a new funding formula is a positive sign. . It has been a 50 year process and I am very hopeful that we will reach the finish line.