Regional arts deal moves forward

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
July 28th, 2010

 In the wake of the regional recreation deal’s collapse, the remaining loose pieces of the puzzle started to reassemble themselves this week with arts at the core of the progress.

Facing a looming deadline of December 31st, 2010 for a new cost sharing/funding arrangement to be in place for the Trail and Community Arts Centre, agreed to by all parties prior to the dissolution of regional recreation, may soon win a reprieve if all parties in the region agree to the a new bylaw.

If Regional District Bylaw 1446 is agreed to by each of the local municipal bodies, it is expected to pass and be approved this fall. What that will mean is the launch of a new regional funding mechanism in cooperation between Trail, Warfield, Rossland, Montrose, Fruitvale, Area A, Area B and the Regional District. This funding mechanism will keep the Community & Arts Centre alive.

This Monday, Rossland approved its participation in the new program that, at its core, is put together in a nearly identical cost sharing fashion as regional recreation previously was. This new agreement, however, will cover just the arts centre as well as the VISAC gallery, Kootenay Columbia Trails Society, and a few other arts and recreation programs.

If the bylaw passes, it will allow the arts centre to not only continue operations but to look at possible expansion and improvements into the future.

“If we didn’t do this, then funding for the Community & Arts Centre would be cut off January 1st 2011,” explained Regional District CAO John MacLean. “What this service does that is really important is allow us to continue to operate that building. Probably more importantly it allows us to look at improvements. Right now we can only look at maintenance issues. With the new service in place we’ll be able to look at improvements to the Charles Bailey Theatre and things like that.”

Also as part of the new deal, the remaining debt from the regional recreation service will be paid off by each of the formerly participating communities. The existing legacy debt payments from improvements to the Trail Memorial Arena will be part of the first year’s requisition from participating communities of $730,830. As the Trail Memorial Arena upgrades were initially approved while still under regional recreation, the debt is the responsibility of all municipalities involved.

With one and two years respectively remaining on the two debt payments, the annual requisition as part of the new agreement should drop substantially. With the debt payments removed, the annual requisition will be built off the annual budgets for the arts centre, VISA, KCTS and other organizations funded through the deal.

Funding for the program will be recouped through property taxes, fees and charges, revenues raised and revenues received by way of gifts, grants or otherwise. There has been a maximum cap placed on the program to keep costs in check. That cap has been set at the 1st year’s requisition of $730,830 or $0.299/$1000in property tax assessment, whichever is higher.

Overall, costs of the new regional Culture, Arts and Recreation Service will be shared between the participating municipalities based on the relative share of net taxable value of land and improvements in each community. The actual share per community has yet to be calculated as the service will initiate on January 1st of 2011.

“This has been coming for some time,” commented Councillor Kathy Moore. “I’m in full support of this.”

While most recreation items and sewer have so far not been able to reach cooperation and cost sharing agreements, the arts and culture side of things looks to be moving forward. Both Rossland council and the Regional District seem pleased that a solution a year and a half in the making looks to be coming to fruition.

Andy Stradling questioned the between difference the new deal and the nature of the old regional recreation agreement.

“I’m very happy to see this come forward and celebrate the regional approach to managing a facility of this nature. I wonder though if this is not much like the model we used to have for the other half (recreation).”

Categories: Arts and Culture

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