New Approach Eyed for Miners Hall - Task Force Report Presented to Council

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
April 9th, 2009

Rossland recreation director John Reed held court during Monday April 6th’s committee of the whole meeting, presenting, answering questions and gathering feedback on–among other items–the Miners Hall task force report.

The main theme as presented by Reed was that he is keen to take more of a business approach to managing the Miners Hall facility. Allowing that this has not traditionally been part of the recreation director’s role, he envisions a facility that, along with meeting current needs, could be put to even better use and recover a higher percentage of the cost subsidies the city provides to operate it, if not 100% cost recovery.

“We’ve got a period boutique facility that is very attractive for many types of events, weddings or conferences,” said Reed. Through a facility marketing plan he is currently developing, Reed hopes to be “going out and actively finding the business.”

As it stands, the Miner’s hall currently operates at a 70-30 split of generated revenue and city subsidies respectively. Through a combination of rate changes and bringing in new business to use the facility, one aim is to work those rates back into a more favourable position for the city with less of a subsidy required to operate the hall.

“What is your goal in all of this,” asked Councillor Andy Stradling. “We’re not in it to make a profit, so what are the goals in terms of cost recovery split and subsidy from the city?”

Reed noted that setting a target goal was a good point, and he promised to come back to council with an answer to that question.

A large part of the Miners Hall task force was an extensive review of all of the users of the facility and their current rental and use agreements with the city. Looking at the various user groups Reed noted, as an example, that the Rossland Follies currently pay no fees to use the facility in lieu of providing performances that benefit the town by “Creating a tourist draw for the businesses in the area, as well as creating summer youth employment opportunities,” as explained by Councillor Kathy Wallace.

Among options, Reed is potentially looking at changes to the Follies’ user agreement which expires at the end of 2009. These changes would reduce the group’s performance schedule from five days to four days, and after 2010 they would not have exclusive weekend use of the facility in the summer. This would open up opportunities to bring in more weddings, events, or conferences to generate additional revenue.

The proposal for the Follies, a group tied tightly to the heart and soul of Rossland, brought about questions from the councillors on the importance of generating revenue and at the same time not negatively affecting one of the Golden City’s cultural mainstays.

“Now we’re talking about the Follies. That, I consider to be a real asset to the town,” said Mayor Greg Granstrom, whose concerns were echoed by Councillor Stradling.”

Councillor Laurie Charlton also expressed his own concern about any potential negative effects on the Follies, adding, “I think we need to look at how this all affects the viability of the Follies; it may be possible that reducing certain days from their schedule may make them more viable.”

There are often days, mid week or otherwise, when only a few people take in the Follies shows. With that understanding, Reed suggested that as a whole the attendance on various days of the Follies shows should be looked at and it may be possible to find certain low points in the schedule that could be cut and possibly have a positive effect on their balance sheet while at the same time opening the hall for other revenue-generating uses.

An issue in scheduling more revenue-generating events in the Miners Hall is that the facility is already very well-used and available time is at a premium. While the hall is being used, other facilities such as the auditorium and gym at RSS often sit dark after 300 PM. While not under control of the city, Councillor Jill Spearn suggested looking into the school as potentially a better host site for various programs, freeing up more time in the Miners hall. This concept would align directly with the Neighbourhoods of Learning concept that the Visions for Small Schools society has been discussing as part of our schooling future in Rossland.

Ultimately, the discussion concluded with Councillor Charlton making a motion (which passed unanimously) to send the Miners Hall report back to city staff with directions to prepare a new report to present to council at a future date. It was requested that the new report by staff go through each recommendation by the Miners Hall task force and either check that staff agrees with the recommendation or provide a suggested alternative.
“I’ll repeat that our goal is to maintain the building’s historical uses for Rosslanders first and above all,” concluded Reed.

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