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Second area community opts out of Trail recreation program

Trail Champion
By Trail Champion
March 17th, 2014

The already-contentious City of Trail Recreation program has sustained another blow, as Warfield has now followed Beaver Valley’s lead and opted out of the Trail Resident Program (TRP) rate structure. In a release issued this morning, Trail mayor Dieter Bogs expressed distress over Warfield’s decision, arguing it may force the city to re-examine, and possibly increase, non-resident rates.

The press release reads as follows:

The Village of Warfield has informed the City of Trail they will not be renewing the Recreation Services and Funding Agreement with the City. In lieu of renewing the agreement, Warfield city council has decided to initiate a reimbursement program for recreation and culture.

“This is very disappointing news,” says City of Trail Mayor, Dieter Bogs. “Negotiations and discussions with Warfield were seemingly proceeding very well up until (Trail) was advised of this decision; therefore we were quite shocked to hear the village decided not to renew the agreement.”

Warfield’s five-year contract originally began in September 2009 and called for an initial financial contribution of $71,350. This yearly cost, which increased slightly each year based on the Consumer Price Index, saw Warfield contribute $74,446 towards the service in 2013, and provided Warfield residents with Trail Resident Program (TRP) rates for all Trail Parks and Recreation parks, fields, and facilities. It is also understood the village will be discontinuing its apportionment for the Trail Public Library; therefore the city will lose an additional $32,600 annually. These losses, in addition to the previous loss of $209,350 with the cancellation of the Beaver Valley Recreation Parks and Trails Committee (BVPARTS) contract, will present challenges for the city to sustain its annual $3.39million operating budget for recreation facilities and programs that have been developed to service the entire region.

“The city is now forced to the look at the existing TRP rates more critically and will need to consider making user fee and recreation program adjustments,” continues Bogs. “The inability of our neighbours to recognize and contribute towards the larger recreation facilities in Trail that provide a regional benefit is difficult to comprehend. Without these facilities it would clearly make Greater Trail less desirable and could negatively impact such things as future economic investment, employment as well as property values. Even with the agreements, the city has provided a significant financial subsidy beyond what was recovered; this is what makes this decision so difficult to accept.”

Bogs went on to say, “we’ve worked hard to try to build and maintain positive relationships with our surrounding communities and have always seen value in working together on regional level. The other communities obviously appreciate autonomy to make decisions for their citizens, but given Warfield has few amenities, this decision seems to indicate they have no appreciation for the services their residents can easily access. Fees for the services are nominal considering the city’s overall cost structure and level of service provided. Furthermore, this decision does not promote regional cooperation and sustainability; it only perpetuates the breakdown of inter-community communication and collaboration and will force the city to take action in response to this decision.”

The cancellation of the agreement will result in Village of Warfield residents paying higher non-TRP rates, effective immediately, and Trail Parks and Recreation will commence all the administration changes necessary. Council will also consider its legal position with respect to the longstanding library agreement that goes back to 1950, and whether or not Warfield can simply remove itself from this service without an official mandate from its electors. Further, the city will consult with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development with respect to the reimbursement programs that are being promoted, in what seems to be a way, to effectively download costs onto one municipality that choses to provide a service.

Bogs concluded by saying “The decision to utilize property tax dollars to provide individual benefit and ignore the overall community benefits and costs of these major facilities is seemingly a race to the bottom and will only serve to hurt everyone in the long-run.”

Warfield residents are reminded that all inquiries should be directed to their municipal office or elected officials.

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