Recreation Breakdown Results in Lost Economic Opportunities

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
May 21st, 2009

The broken down Regional Recreation agreement has reared its head again this week, and this time it would seem the citizens and businesses of Trail and Rossland are the ones losing out. Stemming from a May 1st letter sent from Rossland Mayor Greg Granstrom to Trail’s Mayor Dieter Boggs inviting the City of Trail to participate in a joint bid opportunity discussion concerning two large scale upcoming events, the apparently strained relationship between the two councils came to the forefront.

Rossland should cooperate with Trail and Trail should also cooperate with Rossland…For example we’re trying to keep our school and then Trail turns around and says Rossland schools shouldn’t exist

The joint bid between the two cities would have been to host the 2012 Esso Cup – National Female Midget Hockey Championship and the 2011 BC Senior Games. On advice provided in a report on the matter by Trail CAO David Perehudoff, Trail Council voted 5 to 1 in favour of a motion which read

“In response to the letter dated May 1, 2009, the City of Rossland be advised that the City of Trail is not interested in pursuing joint bidding opportunities at this time.” Councillor Graham opposed the motion.

In the report from Trail’s CAO, it was noted that “Given that Rossland has effectively expressed no desire in providing any funding in support of the City of Trail’s recreation facilities and services, their request and associated commentary about building “cooperative inter-municipal networks” seems to be contradictory or they choose to ignore the linkage. It is unclear how or why the City of Trail would consider such a request based on the direction Rossland has chosen to take.”

This effectively closed the door for now on bidding to bring one or both of these events to town, even though these events would have had a significant positive economic impact on the two cities.

“It’s really all about recreation and I just hope they can work it out sooner than later so that we don’t miss out on any more opportunities,” said Deanne Steven of Tourism Rossland.

Questioning Mayor Boggs on where the belief that Rossland has “expressed no desire in providing any funding” to support Trail’s recreation facilities, Boggs responded, “I hope you appreciate that we have these facilities and basically do provide our culture and recreation for the whole area and you know when people (Rossland Council) say, `you know at this moment we’re not prepared to assist with that, let’s see how much they can further reduce the activity or whatever and then we’ll see at the end`, you know that hurts. Those kinds of statements hurt. No question about it… We’ve done things Rossland isn’t too happy about and they have said and done things we’re not too happy about. It’s one of those situations.”

Rossland sees the situation in a different light with Mayor Granstrom responding to the “Rossland expressed no desire” comment by saying, “I think Mayor Boggs may have misspoke because Rossland has always, as you know, been willing to discuss funding and we all recognize the fact that recreation is an important component to our area.”

The opposing views on regional recreation have now caused a stalemate on the issue of working together on jointly hosting big events for the time being. In asking Mayor Boggs why the recreation issue was used as a reason to not work together on hosting these two events specifically, Boggs noted that the two issues are not separate and one needs to be solved before the other can move forward. Replying to the suggestion that it would be in the greater interests of the residents and businesses to put the recreation issue behind them to work on the joint bid, Mayor Boggs noted that, “On this the two issues are connected and the request and the facilities and culture and recreation are connected. Don’t forget that. They are connected in this particular case because that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about recreation and culture facilities, the use of those and the joint use of those. That’s what we’re talking about in terms of (Rossland’s) request. Make sure that people recognize that.”

Again not seeing eye to eye on the issue, Mayor Granstrom considers the bidding for events and the recreation funding agreement to be separate issues and hopes the disagreements on recreation don’t affect possible economic drivers from coming to the area. 

“I’d hate to think that it’s `you didn’t do this so we won’t do that` kind of thing. That’s really not what we should all be about, especially in events like this. I don’t think that one community alone could host these events. If Rossland and Trail were to get together on this it would have been positive for both communities. It’s really not dependant on how we’re funding recreation. That’s outside of this whole thing. I don’t understand why they would use this as an excuse to not bring some economic development to the area,” noted Granstrom.

In his own defence, on the subject of not working to bring economic driving events to Trail and Rossland, Boggs explained that, “There isn’t any community of 8,000 people that is putting on as many events for their businesses and for their hotels as the city of Trail. I’ll tell you that right now. From that perspective, the Trail council is doing its best to bring people to town and business to town so we’ll benefit from it. We do that in a big way.”

In terms of cooperating financially, Rossland recently agreed to help fund in part the additional $15,000 that Trail requested to cover an unexpected $100,000 cost overrun on installing a new $250,000 HVAC system in the Trail Community Centre.

“Rossland should cooperate with Trail and Trail should also cooperate with Rossland…For example we’re trying to keep our school and then Trail turns around and says Rossland schools shouldn’t exist,” noted Granstrom. [Please see the Telegraph`s story on this]

In an attempt to move forward on the recreation funding issue and improve cooperation between the two councils in general, Mayors Boggs and Granstrom met this past week to discuss the issue. Mayor Boggs on behalf of the city of Trail also presented Rossland with a new proposal on recreation funding which will be discussed during the May 24th regular council meeting in Rossland.

For Rossland, one of the core issues in the recreation funding debate was a feeling that Rossland didn’t have a say on how things were funded and that “We were just sending money down blind,” said Granstrom.

There is some optimism on behalf of both parties that a resolution on the matter can be reached and both sides hope the matter can be resolved sooner than later for the benefit of residents.

“In this proposal there may be some things that address some of our concerns. I can’t speak for council right now, but I think that Trail has recognized some of Rossland’s concerns and perhaps we can move on from here,” concluded Granstrom.

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