Disgruntled slow-pitch teams look to start new league in Rossland
With talks of Rossland teams pulling out of the league, the Trail-based slow-pitch softball league is the latest group up in arms over the recreation breakdown and Trail Resident Program. With the season set to begin in the next couple of weeks, both of the Rossland teams have pulled out of the league as of press time. Both teams, however, are actively working on ways to keep playing this summer, either in the Trail league or perhaps in…a league of their own.
This year the cost per team to enter the slow-pitch league has been set at $400 for the three month season. If your team is from Rossland, however, each player on the team must pay an additional $204 per person under the Trail Residency Program. For a typical team of 12 from Rossland, that equates to $2,800 per team as opposed to $400 a team if you’re from Trail.
The additional $204 per non-Trail resident player is for a fields and parks sports pass which was initiated as part of the Trail Resident Program bylaw that went into effect last September. Following complaints that not everyone uses all facilities, the City of Trail broke down specific sports passes with different prices for each to save non-residents the full $990 charge for a residency card.
“It’s an option, rather than purchasing the resident card that gives people entitlement to everything. The argument at the time of the bylaw was that some people only participate in some activities and don’t want to buy into the whole recreation service. Council came up with an option for sport-specific fees allotted,” explained Tricia Davison, deputy recreation manager for the City of Trail.
One bone of contention with slow pitch players is that the program is not equitable across all sports. Local minor hockey and soccer leagues, for example, have set up reciprocal deals with one another so that people participating from Rossland in hockey or soccer do not have to pay any fees for their sports pass.
“The sports programs are all different,” added Davison. “The one for softball is a parks sport pass so it’s the same pass for soccer, track and field, slow pitch and rugby. That’s all a $204 fee. In saying that, some communities are exempt from that and are outside of the area that don’t have recreation agreements with the city. In Rossland, for example, for soccer and Castlegar for soccer as well you don’t have to pay for a sports pass. It’s the same with minor hockey.”
The logic behind certain sports not having to pay the added fee is that they don’t just play games in Trail but also in Rossland, Castlegar and around the area.
One of the options being looked at to resolve the situation is bringing some of the slow pitch league game up to Rossland fields.
Brian Connel, who organizes the league, is frustrated with the situation and looking for solutions as well but is not overly optimistic about the plan to play games in Rossland in lieu of the TRP sports pass.
“From what I understand, it doesn’t matter if we mixed our league and played in Rossland; that’s not going to affect that they have to pay the TRP sports pass to use trail rec facilities. We could definitely talk about it. I’m sure everyone in the league would be okay with that. I haven’t heard one person from Trail or anywhere that agrees with this new fee for individual players. It’s ridiculous, I think. Haley Park was built by volunteers from all over, not just Trail, and a lot of the money donated was from Teck. There were folks from Rivervale and Rossland and outside of Trail that helped build that park. It’s frustrating because the city doesn’t seem to want to even listen to us. They just say, ‘that’s the way it is–deal with it’. Now we’re stuck with teams dropping out and an uncertain future for the league.”
Julie Parker of the Rossland Chamber of Commerce (and a member of the Rossland Fireballs slow-pitch team) has been working with the league, City of Rossland and Rossland Recreation to figure out a solution.
As it stands now, the most likely outcome seems to be a new co-ed slow pitch league in Rossland. Currently, there is a strong men’s league in town that has suggested they could start and finish their season two weeks earlier. That would allow time for an eight week co-ed season starting in mid-July. Parker has initiated talks with Rossland Recreation who are fully supportive of the idea and willing to work with players to form a new Rossland League.
“The fees in Trail are just ridiculous. I mean, $2800 for a team instead of $400 is out of whack. We’d like to have a league based in Rossland where it’s $400 or whatever price we set for all teams. We’ve had teams from Warfield and Trail already say they’d come play in our league, perhaps, in that scenario,” added Parker.
What is needed at this stage to keep Rossland co-ed slow-pitch going is interested players to come together and work out the details of the new league and recruit new players.
“We’ve got the two Rossland teams already; some of the men’s league players have said they’d like to keep playing and maybe bring their wives or kids out to form new co-ed teams and perhaps some of the Warfield and Trail teams will come play with us as well.”
If you’re interested in keeping slow pitch alive for Rosslanders, you can join the growing Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=365591467856 and voice your support.